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Veterans Hiring

The background is a close up of two windows of OPM's headquarters in Washington D.C. reflected in the window is American and OPM flags waving in the wind. Beside the building is blue sky and in black text:

Every day, the 2.1 million women and men of the Federal Workforce tackle some of our country’s most pressing issues. Whether caring for our veterans, supporting our troops, fighting forest fires, or planning a mission to Mars, Federal employees are focused on making life better for the American people.

In a 2014 address, President Obama said: “To rise to meet the challenges of the 21st century, we need a Federal Workforce with the necessary skills, experience, and tools to meet its diverse mission now and in the future.”  At the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), we work to fulfill this vision. Our mission is to help agencies recruit, retain, and honor a world-class Federal workforce to serve the American people.

Today, OPM has joined our sister agencies in sketching out for the American people a summary of the efforts we have made during this administration to fulfill the President’s vision.

Over the past eight years, our overarching focus has been to modernize the way OPM supports agencies, current and former Federal employees, and their families. By embracing new ways to use data to make decisions, investing in new tools and technologies, and streamlining our processes, we have helped foster a workforce capable of tackling 21st century challenges. In particular, we have focused on:

  • Making the Federal Government a model employer by adopting workplace policies that reflect the modern American economy;

     

  • Strengthening the personnel system to improve Federal agencies’ capacity to recruit, hire, develop, engage, and retain workforces ready to meet 21st century challenges;

     

  • Building a roadmap to better protecting the integrity of the Federal workforce by modernizing the way the government performs background investigations;

     

  • Improving our operations by embracing new tools and technology and enhancing our focus on customer service and cyber security.

The memorandum goes into detail about our agency-wide efforts. I want to highlight just some of the work we’ve done. You can see a fuller description of these efforts and what we see as the best way to continue this journey in OPM’s full memorandum.

In striving to make the Federal government a model employer, OPM has expanded opportunities for people from all elements of society. We’ve made progress in closing the gender pay gap, increased workplace flexibilities to help employees balance their work life and home life. We’ve also promoted diversity and inclusion in the Federal workforce.

Strengthening the personnel system needs to reinforce and build on the merit system principles that represent the bedrock values that have long stood as the foundation of this nation’s civil service system.

Through our Pathways programs we’ve created clearer paths to Federal careers for students and recent graduates and enabled the government to compete more effectively with the private sector for this talent. We’ve brought experts from the private sector into government through innovative fellowship programs. And we established a hiring excellence campaign to help human resources specialists and managers hire the critical talent they need.

The events of recent years have underscored the need to guard against threats to the Federal Government’s personnel, property, and information systems. OPM plays a central role in protecting against threats as we conduct 95 percent of the Federal Government’s background investigations that help agencies make employment, security clearance, and credentialing decisions. By establishing the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) and continuing to modernize the background investigations process, OPM has come a long way in helping the Federal Government build and maintain a trusted workforce.

At OPM customer service is at the heart of everything we do. OPM has embraced new tools and technologies to help deliver better customer service and better secure the information we house. We’ve made significant progress in modernizing and securing information technology systems. We continue to provide high quality health benefits for the 9.2 million Federal employees, retirees and their families who are enrolled in the Federal Employment health Benefit program.

These are some of the highlights of the work OPM has done during this administration to fulfill our mission to recruit, hire, develop, retain and honor the men and women who work every day to deliver excellent service to the American people.

There is much more work to be done. I am confident that the dedicated men and women of OPM will continue in their efforts to build an even greater workforce now, and in the future.

 


This Veterans Day, as we honor and express our gratitude to the men and women who so valiantly served our nation in uniform, I want us to take a moment and think about the battle so many of our returning heroes face – how to make the transition to the next chapter of their lives.

I’m thinking about veterans like Christopher, who after being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan during his decade of service in the Air Force went from job to job, doing work that did not satisfy him.

Or Georgia, a disabled combat veteran whose work as a water purification and distribution specialist during Desert Shield/Desert Storm did not, she said, translate very well in the civilian sector.

Or Julien, a Purple Heart recipient who was a field radio operator in the Marine Corps. When he left the military, his challenge was to balance going to school full time and working full time.

Veterans like these were on President Obama’s mind when he issued Executive Order 13518 to honor our obligations to our nation’s returning service members and establish a hallmark Federal employment initiative to encourage more veterans to join the Federal service.

A look at the numbers shows we’re delivering on the President’s objective. When he issued his 

Executive Order on November 9, 2009, the percentage of new veterans hired into the Federal Government was 24 percent. At the end of fiscal year (FY) 2015, that percentage was 32.5 percent. Since FY 2009, the Federal Government has hired more than half a million veterans in 24 different agencies.

But the numbers don’t begin to tell the whole story or speak to why the President and I believe it’s critical for the Federal Government to recruit talented, qualified, and dedicated veterans for the Federal workforce.

Not only is hiring veterans the right thing to do, it makes good business sense. The skills, leadership, and discipline that veterans bring to Federal workplaces across this great nation are essential to our ability to meet our mission to serve the American people.  Our collective challenge was and remains to understand and capitalize on the strengths that these veterans can bring to Federal service, and to help connect them with agencies across the government that need these skills. 

Each year the Federal Government spends millions of dollars training service members like Christopher, Georgia and Julien to meet many and varied challenges. When service members are ready to hang up their uniforms and transition to civilian life, we can maximize our investments in their training by encouraging them to continue serving their country as civilian Federal employees.

As part of the President’s veterans initiative we created the one-stop website for Federal employment– FedsHireVets.gov – where veterans and their families can get information and resources to help them find employment opportunities. Veteran Employment Program Offices are in place in 24 agencies and the website provides information on how veterans can connect with these offices to learn about career opportunities and about how to navigate the Federal employment process.

The Executive Order also established the President’s Council on Veterans Employment, which has tackled such issues as helping agencies find ways to retain the talented veterans they hire. The Council also looked at how to maximize opportunities for women veterans to join the Federal service.

But the real success stories come from veterans themselves.

After trying out different jobs Christopher became a volunteer, then an intern with the National Park Service. He says he is now “living my dream” as a Park Ranger in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in California.

Georgia now works for the Bureau of Land Management as an Outdoor Recreation Planner and says the best part of her job is she knows that what she does “makes a difference.”

And Julien now has a bachelor’s of science in business administration, is working at the Department of Labor and says: “I could not be more thrilled about the next stage of my career in the Federal Government.”

Even as we celebrate this progress and the success stories of these talented veterans, we must rededicate ourselves to helping more of their fellow veterans and help agencies recruit, train and retain these talented employees.

And on this Veterans Day, I want to thank the women and men who made the choice to serve their fellow Americans - first in uniform and now as part of the two-million strong Federal workforce.


A picture of Acting Director Cobert walking down the steps Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

 


Director Archuleta meets with a woman serving in the U.S. Air Force. 

It’s inspiring to see that after serving their country nobly in the armed forces, so many women and men veterans choose to continue working for the American people through Federal civil service.

The President has made increasing the hiring of veterans, and particularly women veterans, a top priority.  As a result, in fiscal year 2014, one in three new Federal hires was a veteran. The actual rate was 33.2 percent, up from 31 percent in fiscal year 2013.

As leaders of the President’s Council on Veterans Employment, we share the President’s commitment to making sure that women leaving the military can easily transition to the Federal civil service.  That’s why we created a women veterans initiative led by the Department of Homeland Security. Through that initiative, the Council today released a report that shows that nearly 24 percent of veterans hired in the civilian workforce in fiscal year 2013 were women vets, although women represent just 9 percent of all veterans.

We can build on that. We know that women in general are underrepresented in the Federal workforce, especially in the skilled trades and law enforcement – two areas where many women veterans have significant expertise. We also know that women are statistically less likely to report their service when applying for new positions. We want to encourage them to make their military service known. We also want to help them find new opportunities to continue to serve their country through civilian public service, using the skills they honed while serving their country in the military.

To enhance efforts to hire more women veterans in the Federal Government, the Council’s report recommends adding a section on women veterans to the Veterans Recruitment and Employment Strategic Plan. Going forward, we will design strategies to recruit women veterans for positions across the government and improve outreach to women veterans by building on relationships with veterans service organizations, colleges, universities, trade schools, and affinity groups. In addition, the report recommends that we gather data from Federal agencies to continue to improve our recruitment strategies for women veterans now, and in the years to come.

Veterans are just one of the many communities that will benefit from the work OPM is doing under its Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion – or REDI – Roadmap. By improving hiring tools like USAJOBS.gov, OPM will make the process of finding a job in the Federal Government much easier for everyone, including veterans.

We may never be able to fully repay our nation’s veterans for the sacrifices they have made, but we can ensure that we do all that we can to make their transition to Federal civilian service as seamless and fulfilling as possible.

Thomas Perez is the Secretary of Labor and Co-Chair of the President’s Council on Veterans Employment.

Robert McDonald is the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Co-Chair of the President’s Council on Veterans Employment.

Katherine Archuleta is Director of the Office of Personnel Management and Vice-Chair of the President’s Council on Veterans Employment.


We all have a loved one who served in the military. Their stories teach us, inspire us, and remind us of what our country stands for. They teach us about sacrifice, about courage, and about determination.

That is why Veterans Day is so important and also so personal. It’s a day to remember those who sacrificed everything to serve our great country. For me, it’s a time for me to remember and to honor the sacrifices of my brother. When he returned home from service in the Vietnam War, I was still very young. He never talked about the hardships of his service, even as we grew older together.  And while it was hard for me to accept that I will never know everything there is to know about my brother, I also realize that his silence is his story. And I accept and honor that.

This year is the fifth anniversary of President Obama's signing of the Executive Order on Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government. The EO made helping veterans transitioning into civilian Federal employment a top priority, and since then, we have made tremendous progress. According to OPM’s report, Employment of Veterans in the Federal Executive Branch for FY 2013, 24 percent of total hires government-wide were veterans in 2009 and that rate increased to 31 percent in 2013. That is the highest percentage of veterans since the mid-1970s. It’s a great accomplishment. But we still have more work to do.

We have veterans transitioning to civilian life from service in Iraq, Afghanistan and other postings following several years – and often multiple tours of duty – during the war on terrorism. They bring home with them a wealth of skill, talent, and expertise, not to mention such workplace intangibles as self-discipline, work ethic and team-minded approaches to solving problems. Many of them have whole careers ahead of them still, and they want to continue to serve their country. I am absolutely committed as the Director of OPM to making sure that we give these veterans, who served their country so nobly in the military, a chance use their skills and their talents to continue their mission of service. I know that we are better for it.

This year, I think about my brother and how proud I am of him. And I think about, and honor, all you who have served in the military and who are continuing to serve in the Federal government. Keep sharing your stories. We need to hear them. 


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