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Washington, DC - U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kay Coles James promised soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center that OPM will continue "aggressive" audits to ensure veterans' preference law is upheld. The day-long event included a personal message of thanks from Director James on behalf of the nation's 1.8 million civil servants as well as training seminars and informational workshops for the soldiers conducted by OPM experts. OPM staff also met one-on-one with soldiers about the opportunities and benefits within the government and the processes of obtaining a Federal job.
Last September, an audit of one Federal agency's hiring activity revealed that errors resulted in five veterans not being hired for positions for which they were qualified. OPM instructed that agency to develop an immediate corrective action plan and to make employment offers to those five veterans or give them priority consideration for future appropriate positions. (2004 marks the 60th anniversary of the Veterans' Preference Act of 1944 and OPM is charged with maintaining and ensuring Federal compliance of veterans' preference.)
OPM has worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to revise, simplify, and in many cases eliminate, the dozens of different form letters the agency had been using to document service-connected disabilities to determine preference. These letters (now in use by the VA) make it much easier for veterans to claim their preference and for agencies to accord it.
OPM also meets on a regular basis, with Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) to foster a partnership and address important issues that surround veterans' employment, incorporating feedback from VSOs into our veterans' hiring process.
"America's veterans are some of the best trained, most disciplined and highly motivated individuals America has to offer and are a ‘must-have' for the future of the Federal Workforce," said James. "We're here to let them know we appreciate their service to the country and the call to serve doesn't end when they leave the military. Veterans are a most valuable resource and we must actively recruit them into the civil service."
OPM staff conducted several seminars at Walter Reed including a seminar which explained veterans' preference, appointing authorities, basis of preference and veterans' preference types and benefits. Other seminars and workshops covered navigation of the usajobs.gov website, resume writing, interviewing skills and the Federal application process. One of the key take-home elements was the OPM-produced DVD "What Veterans Need to Know About Veterans' Preference," a comprehensive 40 minute video seminar of veteran preference rights and eligibilities.
James said, "One of the best ways to attract top talent to the government is to let them know what we're about. These brave men and women have served this nation well and earned these benefits, some of them with their own blood. It is our duty to make sure they are armed with the right information so they can use the tools and preference they fought for so valiantly."
Many of the soldiers in attendance also had comments on the program. One soldier said, "The session offered practical and timely information that will help me better understand how to map my military service skills to civil service jobs." Another soldier stated, "Having (OPM) personnel on site is ensuring that soldiers are getting the right information and are getting their questions answered." Several soldiers also remarked that the one-on-one counseling was extremely helpful and they were getting first class information.
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.