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News Release

Monday, June 28, 2004
Contact: Michael Orenstein
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Senior Staff and Chief Human Capital Officers Discuss Existing Hiring Authorities to Help Veterans Gain Federal Employment

CHCO Academy focuses on available hiring tools

Washington, D.C. -- The use of any one of a number of hiring flexibilities increases the odds that the best qualified individuals, including military veterans, will be selected by federal agencies who are filling critical positions and hard-to-fill jobs.

Chief Human Capital Officers received this message during a recent U.S. Office of Personnel Management CHCO Academy, which offered a review of hiring authorities and flexibilities that can help fill agencies with the unique talents of veterans, students and recent college graduates.

OPM Director Kay Coles James remains confident that agency Chief Human Capital Officers will improve the federal hiring experience for all applicants, including veterans. "The CHCO Academy provides a tremendous opportunity for senior agency officials to develop detailed expertise on the flexibilities available to agencies. I am very pleased at the high level of interest within the agencies for hiring veterans. Veteran employment is an important indication of our efforts to honor those who have served their country in uniform."

The meeting included a detailed discussion of the appointing authorities agency managers and HR officials have at their disposal to hire qualified veterans, including those with service-connected disabilities.

"These are extraordinary authorities that allow you to set aside more traditional hiring procedures" to select the best person for the job, said Doris Hausser, senior policy advisor to OPM Director Kay Coles James.

Hausser and Michael J. Mahoney, OPM's Staffing Group manger, reviewed the Veterans' Recruitment Appointment (VRA), Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) Appointment, and the hiring authority for veterans with a 30 percent or more service-connected disability rating.

VRA eligibility is available to veterans with a service-connected disability or who received a medal for service in a campaign or expedition. In addition, VRA eligibility is available to veterans who received an Armed Forces Service Medal, or who recently separated from active duty.

Under the 30 percent or more service-connected disability authority, veterans can be appointed to any job at any grade (pay) level for which they are eligible.

The VEOA expands access veterans have to federal jobs by giving them the right to apply for positions that are announced under merit promotion rules when the agency is recruiting from outside its own work force. Eligibility under VEOA requires the individual have Veterans' Preference, or have been separated after three or more years of continuous active service performed under honorable conditions. For purposes of VEOA eligibility, active service includes full-time training duty, annual training duty and full-time National Guard duty.

The meeting also focused on Direct-Hire Authority and Category Rating, human resources tools OPM has made available to agencies to expedite the hiring of highly qualified individuals.

When a severe shortage of qualified candidates exists, or there is a critical hiring need for one or more positions, OPM can authorize a Direct-Hire Authority, giving agencies the ability to quickly fill positions. These hiring decisions are merit-based, but do not involve rating and ranking applicants.

With Category Rating, which is available without OPM's approval, agencies hire job candidates from a best-qualified category, or similarly named grouping. Placement into the top or other categories follows accepted assessment procedures. However, numerical ratings are not assigned, giving greater discretion to agencies on hiring decisions.

Veterans' Preference and veterans' rights remain intact under Category Rating procedures. Veterans with preference eligibility rise to the top of the category in which they qualify, and they must be offered employment before all others within the category. Disabled veterans who qualify for employment must be placed at the top of the highest category.

The meeting also sparked dialogue about the government's Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program, which attracts people with post-graduate degrees in public administration and a variety of other disciplines, and prepares them for ascension into top leadership posts. The new Senior Presidential Management Fellows Program, a component of the PMF Program, is designed to attract mid-level, private-sector employees for appointment to the upper professional ranks.

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