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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Contact: Brendan LaCivita
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Director Kay Coles James Challenges Veterans' Groups to Help OPM Identify and Correct Veterans' Preference Violations

James continues agency audits to ensure veterans' preference

Washington, D.C. - In continuing President George W. Bush's efforts to support America's veterans, U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kay Coles James today issued a letter to Veterans' Service Organizations (VSO) providing an update on veteran-specific issues on which OPM has been working. In addition, James asks the veterans' groups for their feedback on how OPM can secure the commitments our country has made to veterans.

"As you know, veteran's employment and recruitment into the civil service is a very high priority for OPM -- a commitment demonstrated by results," wrote James in the letter. "For the third year in a row, new hires of veterans showed strong improvements. Veterans comprised 33 percent of full-time permanent new hires in 2003."

Acting in response to concerns raised by VSOs indicating some federal agencies are in violation of veterans' preference laws, James has initiated a series of audits of federal agencies governmentwide and will continue to do so in the coming months. The most recent audit was designed to capture a broad and comprehensive review of veterans' employment in the federal government by determining whether agencies have been taking affirmative measures to employ veterans and providing those eligible with employment preferences under the Veterans' Preference Act. The audit revealed four specific cases in three agencies where veterans' preference had not been properly applied.  OPM and each of the agencies in violation worked together to ensure the actions were corrected, and OPM will continue working with them to ensure veterans' preference is upheld in the future.

"It is critically important for you and your organization to make me aware of any reported violations in these or any other federal agency," James stated.  "I would also request that you keep me informed of any meetings, forums or conferences you are planning that would allow OPM the opportunity to share our message on recruitment."

This fiscal year, OPM is auditing the Department of Transportation, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, the Smithsonian Institution, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Air Force, and OPM.

In the letter, James also discussed OPM's efforts to inform veterans about the federal hiring process.

"As I committed to you and all veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in May, OPM staff will continue Phase II of the Veteran Invitational Program (VIP) at Department of Veterans' Affairs and Military medical centers throughout the country."  VIP II includes seminars which explain veterans' preference, appointing authorities, basis of preference and veterans' preference types and benefits. Other seminars and workshops cover navigation of the USAJOBS website, www.usajobs.gov, resume writing, interviewing skills and the federal application process. By October of this year, OPM will have visited multiple veterans' medical centers nationwide.

"OPM has placed an emphasis on honoring the service of those who have worn the uniform of the United States armed services," stated James. "On behalf of the president and his team at OPM, I respect your service and thank you for working so closely with us to fully honor the veterans who have sacrificed to secure our freedom."

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Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.


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