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News Release

Monday, March 22, 2004
Contact: J. Porter
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Director To Veterans: Veterans' Preference Intact At DHS

OPM Follows Up on 2002 Commitment to Veterans With Full Briefing on Proposed New Regulations

Military Order of Purple Heart Expresses Appreciation

Washington, DC – At the direction of OPM Director Kay Coles James, OPM staff recently met with Veteran Service Organizations (VSO’s) on the new proposed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) personnel regulations.

Ron Sanders, Associate Director for Strategic Human Resources Policy, represented OPM Director Kay Coles James and said, “Director James made a commitment in 2002 to keep all the stakeholders in this process fully engaged, especially those who have given so much for their country. America’s veterans are one of the nation’s most valuable resources and we must actively recruit them and be sure they are informed as to the new plans and options open to them. Our briefing today was meant to highlight the fact that veterans’ preference is intact and that Director James and Secretary Ridge honored commitments made in 2002 to observe feedback from our nations’ veterans and veteran organizations.”

The technical briefing included how the design team of 80 DHS employees, supervisors, union representatives, and OPM representatives arrived at the proposed regulations, why the change was needed and the benefits of the new human resource (HR) system. Some of the benefits included annual pay increases based on employee performance and a flexible streamlined discipline and appeals processes that will lead to faster resolution of issues while maintaining due process.

“The Military Order of the Purple Heart appreciates the fact OPM has kept us informed regarding employment issues for the new Department of Homeland Security. The commitment of OPM and the Department of Homeland Security to keep intact all aspects of veterans’ preference in employment and other veterans’ issues is critical to world security and appreciated,” said Michael D. Tomsey, Past National Commander and National Service Director, Military Order of the Purple Heart.

The proposed HR system will not change the basic civil service rights of DHS employees and the new system in no way diminishes the rights of veterans or dilutes veteran’s preference under any circumstances. In addition to this, no jobs will be eliminated as a result of the transition to the new system and there will be no reduction in current pay or benefits for employees as a result of the transition to the new system.

“Director James and Secretary Ridge wanted to assure Veterans Service Organizations that nothing…repeat, nothing in the proposed regulations establishing the Department of Homeland Security’s new human resources system would affect the rights and preferences afforded those who have honorably served in our nation’s armed forces,” stated Sanders. “The law does not permit OPM or DHS to diminish those rights and preferences in any form or fashion, and Director James and Secretary Ridge took all possible measures to ensure that the proposed regulations did not do so…or that they could not even be perceived as doing so.”

Attendees of the briefing included representatives from the American Legion, American Military Retiree Association, Disabled American Veterans, Korean War Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart, NCO Association, Paralyzed Veterans of America, American GI Forum and Vietnam Veterans of America.

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OPM leads and serves the Federal Government in enterprise human resources management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted, effective civilian workforce. By Empowering Excellence in Government through Great People, we provide leadership and support to U.S. agencies on issues including human resources policy and oversight, background investigations, federal employee benefits, retirement services, guidance on labor-management relations, and programs to improve workforce performance. For more information, visit or follow OPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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