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How to truly honor Veterans Day? Give them more jobs.
For vets, Berry said, the office will "take the headache" out of looking for federal jobs.
One headache for veterans, the Federal Career Intern Program, might soon get better because of a ruling last week by the Merit Systems Protection Board. It said the program violates veterans' employment preference.
"We fully intend to comply with the ruling," Berry said, although OPM has not ruled out an appeal.
The administration was considering major changes to the intern program even before the board's decision. In May, President Obama ordered OPM to evaluate it, and that review is working its way through the approval process.
Without going into details, Berry said the administration plans to return the program to its original purpose. "It was specifically designed as a student program," he said.
But in practice, it had become a fast-growing hiring mechanism that allowed agencies to circumvent some aspects of the competitive hiring process for many who are not students.
With the board's decision and program recommendations Berry will make to the White House, he said the program "will be fully compliant" with the MSPB ruling. OPM will not, however, take immediate action, such as stopping the program now, Berry added.
OPM said it expects to stop FCIP hiring by March 1, in compliance with the ruling.
The opening of the OPM veterans office comes exactly one year after Obama issued an executive order to "promote employment opportunities for veterans within the executive branch."
About 50,500 veterans were hired in the first nine months of fiscal 2010, 2,000 more than during the same period last year, according to Joseph Kennedy, executive director of the Council on Veterans Employment, which the order created.
Organizations representing veterans give the administration good reviews for its efforts.
"The positive thing is this is the first time I've seen a real initiative from all of the agencies to hire veterans," said the American Legion's Joe Sharpe.
Past administrations also have had veteran hiring initiatives, but they didn't get far. Sharpe and others praised Obama and Berry for putting muscle behind their good words. The muscle includes a strategic plan issued in January.
The document identifies agency barriers to increasing employment of vets, including a lack of leadership, weak infrastructure and poor understanding of veterans' preference.
In the forward to the strategic plan, Berry made the administration's goal clear: "We must aggressively dismantle barriers to entry and success for Veterans and transitioning service members pursuing careers in the Federal civil service."