Military Spouse Employment

New Agreement Improves Overseas Telework Opportunities for Military Spouses

April 18, 2024

The Biden-Harris Administration has announced a permanent memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Department of Defense (DoD) and State Department to strengthen the Domestic Employees Teleworking Overseas (DETO) program for military spouses who work for the federal government.


Stemming from President Biden’s Executive Order (EO) on Advancing Economic Security for Military and Veteran Spouses, Military Caregivers, and Survivors in June 2023, this agreement will help military spouses who are Federal employees maintain their careers and keep their families together when their service members are stationed overseas.

MFAN’s Director of Programs Janice Walton attends a signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House on April 17, 2024 with First Lady Jill Biden, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Verma. (Photo credit: Joining Forces)

The Issue

According to the Department of Defense’s 2021 survey of active duty spouses, the unemployment rate for civilian spouses of active duty military members is 21% — nearly four times the national average. And the Department of Labor estimates more than 16,000 military-connected spouses work across federal departments and agencies.


DETO agreements allow federal employees to perform their domestic assignments at an approved, overseas location for a limited period of time. However, many military spouses who move overseas due to their service member’s permanent change of station orders are denied their requests for approval to work for their federal agency. This can lead to military spouses surrendering thousands of dollars in lost wages, or having their DETO agreements rescinded.


The Fix

Most notably, the new agreement expedites the timeline for Department of State approval by making DoD responsible for the “determination concerning the safety and security of the foreign residence from which the employee will be remotely working.”


MFAN commends the White House Administration, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and the Joining Forces initiative, Defense Department, and State Department for ensuring military spouses can maintain meaningful careers. This action helps spouses quickly be approved to work remotely during PCS moves, in turn strengthening economic security and quality of life for service members and their families.



White House fact sheet

Department of Defense news article

State Department announcement

Joining Forces website