Report: Federal Veterans Preference ‘Complicated’

Report: Federal Veterans Preference ‘Complicated’

The practice of veterans preference in Federal hiring has been called complicated and carries the perception of a lack of fairness, according to a new report by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

While the report is not taking any issue with principle of veterans preference in Federal hiring — a practice that’s been codified since 1944 but its roots date to the Revolutionary War period — the MSPB report says the perception of unfair treatment has negatively impacted current Federal employees.

“Between their training, experience, and commitment to public service, veterans have much to offer potential employers, especially the Federal government,” Grundmann said. “But the laws and regulations that the Government uses to bring veterans into civil service are varied and complicated.”

The report says Federal veteran hiring authorities may invite “misunderstandings, confusion, perceptions of wrongdoing, and possibly actual wrongdoing — whether intentional or inadvertent.” You can download and read a copy of the report here.

The MSPB is an “independent, quasi-judicial agency in the Executive branch” that exists to protect the rights of Federal employees, Federal merit employment systems, and identify prohibited personnel practices.

A survey by the MSPB found that 6.5 percent of workers were aware of policies within the agencies they worked that inappropriately favored a veteran during hiring. Another 4.5 percent said they knew of instances where someone in their agency “knowingly violated lawful form of veterans’ preference or protection laws.”

Currently, a five-point preference is giving for veterans who served “more than 180 days consecutively, other than for training, after Sept. 11, 2001 — the day of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington — through the last day of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A 10-point preference is given to veterans who suffered a disability during their service; though the percentages of disability needed to gain the extra points preference is confusing.”

Federal preferences for family members of veterans are also confusing, according to the report: “Under certain circumstances, the mother of a veteran may be eligible for preference, whereas the father would not be eligible.”

If you’d like to read more about how the government has made this process more confusing for agencies and hiring authority, we suggest this article, titled “The Grey Twilight of Veterans’ Preference.” It was published in August 2013 and predicts much of the controversy playing out now.

The report is more about how the government administers veterans’ preference, and the current situation is not a threat to veteran hiring in the Federal government.

In fact, even though Federal hiring is down overall in recent years, the government employed nearly 575,000 veterans, up 28 percent from 2008. You can see more of those statistics here.

Learn more about federal hiring for veterans