What is noncompetitive eligibility?
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers are awarded one year of noncompetitive eligibility (NCE) under Executive Order 11103 (5 CFR, § 315.605). Noncompetitive eligibility permits, but does not require, U.S. federal government agencies to hire a returned Volunteer for a position without having to go through the formal competitive hiring process (including posting a vacancy announcement, screening or interviewing candidates, or going through the other steps in the standard recruitment process). To use NCE to hire an RPCV, an agency must recognize NCE and have an open position for which the candidate meets the minimum qualifications. The decision to hire a returned Volunteer under NCE is at the discretion of the federal hiring agency, not the Peace Corps.
Do all RPCVs receive NCE hiring status?
Generally, RPCVs must have successfully completed a full tour of Peace Corps service to receive NCE. However, a country director may choose to issue NCE certification to a Volunteer who, for reasons beyond his or her control, does not complete service, but who has satisfactorily served for a sufficient duration (normally at least 12 months) to demonstrate the capability to serve a full term. Country directors include an NCE certification in the final paragraph of the Description of Service (DOS) for all Volunteers who have been granted this benefit. Volunteers who resign from Peace Corps service are not eligible for noncompetitive appointment regardless of how long they served.
How do I make sure the employing agency is aware of my NCE?
RPCVs should highlight NCE status in their cover letter, on their résumé, and through the “Supplemental Documents” area that most online application systems provide. The Peace Corps provides a sample cover letter that can be tailored to help explain NCE status to the hiring agency. In addition, you can also submit an informational letter from the Peace Corps that explains NCE to prospective employers.
How do I prove that I have NCE?
To prove your NCE, attach a copy of your Description of Service (DOS) when applying for a federal job; your DOS contains an NCE certification statement. The DOS will reference Executive Order 11103, the presidential directive that established NCE for Peace Corps Volunteers. If you have misplaced your original DOS, email email@example.com or call 855.855.1961 ext. 1770 or 202.692.1770 to request a new copy.
The application I’m completing requires that I give a series and grade to prove my NCE. How should I respond?
Because Peace Corps Volunteers are not considered federal employees, you did not have a series or grade assigned to your position. If an application requires that you provide a series and grade in proving your NCE, you must contact the hiring agency’s human resources department for guidance on how to complete the application.
Can noncompetitive eligibility be extended beyond one year?
Noncompetitive eligibility can be extended by the hiring agency (not the Peace Corps) for up to two years beyond the initial one-year eligibility period (a maximum of three years from your COS date). It can be extended for three reasons:
- If, after Peace Corps service, you entered the military.
- If, after Peace Corps service, you became a full-time student at an accredited institution of higher learning.
- If, after Peace Corps service, you engaged in another activity that the hiring agency believes warrants an extension.
Generally, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has indicated to federal agencies that it is appropriate to extend a candidate's NCE if he or she is gaining work experience that is relevant to the position being filled and that is expected to enhance the candidate's performance and value to the agency.
Can I use my noncompetitive eligibility more than once?
Yes. You can use your NCE status as many times as you wish while it is active (NCE is active for at least one year after your COS date). Once you have been hired at a federal agency, you can even use your NCE to gain employment at another agency. However, you cannot use NCE to gain a promotion or a new position within the same agency without first leaving that agency.
Does noncompetitive eligibility apply only to federal positions?
Yes. NCE is applicable only to federal government positions. It does not apply to state or local government jobs.
Last updated Oct 08 2014