The Washington Post

Feds talk: How do you feel about veterans’ preference for federal hiring?


A U.S. Army officer listens to a speaker with the U.S. flag in the background at the Hiring our Heroes job fair in New York on March 27. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid).

eye-opener-logo6
The Partnership for Public Service this month released a report calling for controversial civil-service reforms, including changes to the federal government’s hiring practices.

Federal agencies select new employees based partly on a points system, awarding extra points to job applicants who are former U.S. troops. The partnership recommended keeping that veterans’ hiring preference in place.

We wondered how federal workers feel about the existing guidelines for veterans. A Federal Eye survey last week asked federal employees to share their thoughts on the matter, in addition to other elements of the civil-service system.

Not all respondents agreed with the preference policies. Peter Gamba, a Treasury Department employee from the Harper’s Ferry area, said the guidelines are “more than frustrating” and “a real road block to those of us who did not serve.”

“When two qualified workers apply for the job, the most qualified should get it, not the one who was a veteran yet not as qualified,” Gamba added.

Even military veterans complained about the rules.

“I am totally opposed to [veterans-preference] hiring and believe it’s bad for good government and bad for the country,” said Robert Mikol, a former U.S. Marine who works in Alaska for the Bureau of Land Management. “I am seeing former members of the military and military spouses get jobs that they are truly unqualified for.”

Other federal employees expressed strong support for the preference policies.

“Those men and women who voluntarily served their country should be given first choice to employment with the very government they defended,” wrote Christine O’Rourke, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission employee from Pottstown, Pa. “However, rules should not be so restrictive that they make fair competition for those who did not serve.”

Bill Asch, a National Institutes of Health employee from Seattle, said he supports veterans preference but wishes the application-review process worked more efficiently. “I like veteran’s preference, and my dad (USAF) did too,” he said. “No real complaints, other than how long things take to process. Need faster decisions.”

It’s worth noting that the government does not make promises to hire former troops who apply for any given position. Veterans receive the extra points, but other factors — including greater experience or qualifications — could give non-veterans an edge in some cases.

Keep the responses coming, federal workers. We plan to share more of them in coming days as we explore other topics, including your top priorities for civil-service reform, how you would feel about switching to a merit-based pay system and your thoughts on political appointments.

Having trouble viewing this form? Click here.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks(at)washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, and The Fed Page for more federal news. Submit news tips and suggestions to federalworker@washpost.com.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Republicans debated Saturday night. The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 9. Get caught up on the race.
Highlights from Saturday's GOP debate
Except for an eminent domain attack from Bush, Trump largely avoided strikes from other candidates.

Christie went after Rubio for never having been a chief executive and for relying on talking points.

Carson tried to answer a question on Obamacare by lamenting that he hadn't been asked an earlier question about North Korea.
The GOP debate in 3 minutes
Listen
Play Video
Quoted
We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they're booing me? I don't want their money!
Donald Trump, after the debate crowd at St. Anselm's College booed him for telling Jeb Bush to be "quiet."
Listen
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She's planning to head Sunday to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 38%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.