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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kay Coles James today hosted a special symposium for agency human capital leaders, human resources specialists, and program managers on veterans' preference and recruitment. The all-day event focused on advancing existing policies and strategies to recruit veterans into the federal work force, and to reiterate that veterans' preference is the law and not a courtesy.
"Recognizing the sacrifices of those who wear our country's uniform, the federal government embraces a moral obligation to ensure that veterans have appropriate and proper access to federal jobs when they separate from military service," James told the crowd of over 250 attendees. "That obligation is spelled out in plain legislative language extending back sixty years - we refer to it as veterans' preference."
The event was held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, and brought together key federal human capital officials to focus on an issue President George W. Bush has entrusted to James.
The symposium included a presentation by Terrance P. O'Mahoney, chairman of the President's National Hire Veterans Initiative; a presentation on the current status of veterans' employment in the federal work force; breakout presentations focusing on special hiring authorities, veterans' preference, and national transition assistance programs; and remarks by both OPM Deputy Director Dan Blair and Major General Bobby G. Hollingsworth, Ret., executive director of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
"OPM has done an excellent job in coordinating and addressing veterans' issues," stated O'Mahoney. "From reminding agency heads of their obligations to veterans and urging them to hire more -- to ensuring that veterans get their preferences to which they are entitled -- OPM is doing a great job."
James also discussed efforts OPM has made recently to increase veteran hiring, including regular meetings with veterans' service organizations; designing a special section of the OPM USAJOBS website, www.usajobs.gov, for veterans seeking federal employment; and the Veteran Invitational Program, an initiative that provides veterans in transition from military service to civilian life with timely, accurate, and useful information regarding civilian employment opportunities with the federal government.
"Today's veteran brings the same level of dedication to the job as previous generations of veterans, but in addition they bring many of the high-tech skills needed in the current federal work force," stated James. "The federal government has a responsibility to help these men and women as they transition back to civilian life, and veterans represent a ‘good-catch' in filling critical work force vacancies, particularly as we begin seeing retirements of older workers. As members of the best trained and volunteer military in the world, veterans have demonstrated an appreciation and competence for excellence and teamwork, and I cannot think of a better source of talent for the federal government than those who have completed their service in uniform."
Since President Bush took office, more than 133,000 veterans have been hired. Currently, approximately 450,000 veterans are employed in the federal civil service - 25 percent of the total work force.
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.