Fiscal Year 2016 Federal Veteran Hiring Results and Federal Hiring Programs
On September 12, 2017, the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released the results of Fiscal Year 2016 (Oct 1, 2015-September 30, 2016) veteran hiring for the executive branch of the federal government. The report, titled "Employment of Veterans in the Federal Executive Branch," normally runs about a year behind the period it covers, so the report issued in September 2017 is the most recent report.
According to OPM, more than 71,000 veterans entered federal employment in FY16, bringing the total number of federally employed veterans to 635, 266 – up 11,000+ from FY15. Veterans represent approximately 31% of the federal workforce--up five percent since 2009. In 2009, the President issued Executive Order 13518, "Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government," starting a government-wide effort to improve veteran employment in federal agencies called "the Veterans Employment Initiative" (VEI).
The federal government has established a dedicated veteran’s employment web site for federal agencies, veterans and other interested parties at https://www.fedshirevets.gov/. The site is a great source for obtaining information about federal employment and deals not only with veteran hiring, but also with veteran-spouse/survivor hiring.
Veterans can be hired into federal jobs through several different methods. There are two ways for the government to advertise (called a job announcement) for a federal job: Merit Promotion and Delegated Examining. Both types of announcements are posted on the federal job web site:
https://www.usajobs.gov/. Most, but not all veterans, are eligible to apply for a federal job; we’ll cover the details in another article. Eligible veterans can only apply to a Merit Promotion announcement if the announcement allows employees outside the agency posting the announcement to apply for the job. For example, if the announcement is from the Department of Homeland Security and only Homeland Security employees can apply, veterans would not be able to apply. Under Merit Promotion procedures, when veterans can apply for a federal job, the veteran is not given "preference" in the hiring process – they simply get to apply as if they were already federal employees.
If the announcement indicates that any US citizen can apply, it is called a "Delegated Examining" (DE) or "Public" announcement. Any veteran can apply to one of these postings. When a veteran applies to a DE announcement, the veteran may be eligible for "preference" in the hiring process. Preference does not guarantee the veteran a job, but the chance of being referred to the hiring manager increases.
Most veterans can also be hired without going through the Merit Promotion or DE announcement process. There are two ways for this to work. First, any veteran, whether disabled or not, may be appointed to a GS11 or lower position without competition. The authority to hire a veteran this way is called Veterans Recruitment Appointment, or "VRA". The second way is when a veteran has been rated at least 30% disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs. In this case, the veteran can be appointed to any General Schedule position (GS1 through GS15) without competition. Obviously, networking is important for either of these special appointment authorities to result in a veteran being hired. LVERs should be working with local federal agencies to promote veteran hiring, especially through these two special authorities as they reduce the time for the hiring manager to recruit and fill a position from months to days. If you are not familiar with federal veteran hiring processes and authorities, check the FedsHireVets web site or talk with your state DVET or ADVET.
Helping prepare a veteran for any job, including a federal position, means the DVOP must ensure the individual has a terrific resume, which is a key part of the federal application process. In a future article, we’ll talk about federal resumes and how they are different from a private sector resume and why.
With more than 2 million jobs, the federal government can be a rich source of employment for your veteran clients.
VA’s New, Increased Compensation Claims Process
In case you have not heard, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a new process on September 7, 2017 that promises to "deliver faster claims decisions to Veterans and their families." The process aims to deliver decisions within 30 days from the time the VA receives the claim. It is known as the Decision Ready Claims (DRC) initiative. The initial implementation of DRC is limited to those claims that seek an increase in the veteran’s compensation.
VA is working with certain veteran service organizations (VSO) to be sure that the VSOs have the training and tools to ensure that requests for increased compensation claims are complete before the claims are submitted to the VA. The VSOs will confirm that medical exams, military service records, DD 214 (or equivalent), VA Form 21-526EZ -Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits and other forms and supporting documents are complete and ready to send to the VA.
Once the complete package is sent to the VA, a veteran can expect a decision within 30 days from the time VA receives the claim. Because the VSO ensures each package is complete, the VA can assign the claim to a processor for a decision within a month.
If you are working with a veteran who is already receiving compensation from the VA and it appears that the veteran may be eligible for an increase in their compensation, you can connect the veteran with a VSO that is collaborating with the VA on the DRC. To find a participating VSO, go to VA’s directory of VSOs at https://www.va.gov/vso/VSO-Directory.pdf and check Part 1, which lists VSOs that are "certified" to help veterans process claims.