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News Release

Monday, August 23, 2004
Contact: J. Porter
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Deputy Director Dan G. Blair Briefs President's National Hire Veterans Committee On Veterans' Employment Audit

"President Bush, OPM and Director Kay Coles James are all committed to enforcing veterans' preference in hiring and re-employment rights"

Detroit, MI - U. S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Deputy Director Dan G. Blair recently met with the President's National Hire Veterans Committee to brief them on the OPM Veterans' Employment Audit. The audit was designed to capture a broad and comprehensive review of veterans' employment in the federal government by determining whether agencies have been taking affirmative measures to employ veterans and provide them with employment preferences under the Veterans' Preference Act.

"President Bush and OPM Director Kay Coles James are committed to enforcing veterans' preference in hiring and re-employment rights," stated Blair. "Our veterans have put their lives on the line to protect our freedom and we owe it to them to recognize their sacrifice. President Bush has set the standard and has made it clear that veterans' employment issues are very important."

At the time the audit was released Director James stated, "We welcome any reports of violations and are grateful for the role the VSO's have played as partners and sentinels watching for proper observance of the law. OPM will remain vigilant and will be relentless in our follow-up to any report of a violation."

The audit revealed four specific cases in three agencies -- the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services -- where veterans' preference had not been properly applied. OPM and each of the agencies in violation worked together to ensure that the actions were corrected, and OPM continues working with the agencies to guarantee appropriate safeguards are in place to prevent future veterans' preference violations.

In November 2002, OPM Director James issued a memo to agency Human Resources Officers stating that agencies still face many challenges when it comes to increasing the number of veterans in their ranks. She encouraged them to take additional actions to support this public policy and directed OPM staff to conduct a special review of agency adherence to both the letter and the spirit of veterans' preference laws.

"We're pleased the audit did not find major violations of veterans' preference and that much is being done governmentwide to educate, recruit, hire and retain our veterans.  But, as you know, there's still more to do," Blair added. "Our audit report contains recommendations for OPM, for Federal agencies, for Veterans Service Organizations and for veterans themselves. We'll be working to implement those recommendations in the near future."

OPM is continuing to review agency practices and hold them accountable for veterans' preference. Every three to five years, OPM conducts a large-scale review of each large federal agency, looking at its human resources operations. Smaller agencies are audited every four to five years. At the conclusion of the audit, OPM issues an agency-wide report and may order corrective action. This fiscal year, OPM is auditing the Department of Defense, Department of State, NASA, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Navy, Housing and Urban Development, Department of Energy, National Science Foundation and the Treasury Department.

OPM has an ongoing partnership with the Veterans Service Organizations (VSO's) and conducts quarterly meetings with the VSO representatives where they share information and air their concerns about veterans' rights. The audit helped to address these concerns.

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