Veterans' Preference

Data on Employment of Veterans Gao ID: GGD-96-13 February 1, 1995

Veterans were an increasing share of the new hires made by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in recent years. In fiscal year 1994, for example, more than 18 percent of OPM's new hires had veterans' preference, up from 6.6 percent in fiscal year 1990. Increasing numbers of veterans were also hired governmentwide. Among all agencies, the percentage of new hires with veterans' preference rose from 12 percent in fiscal year 1990 to 14.8 percent in fiscal year 1994. OPM policies encourage the employment and the career enhancement of veterans. OPM guidance explains how veterans may be hired and outlines the responsibilities of OPM's veterans program coordinator. Prior GAO work found that veterans' preference procedures were being properly applied in virtually all the hiring GAO examined. GAO believes that the current legal framework to protect veterans' rights was not weakened by the Civil Service Reform Act. Prior GAO work at three Defense Department installations found that women and minorities had been disproportionately affected during a reduction-in-force, in part because they were ranked lower than white males in one of three retention factors, including veterans' preference.

GAO found that: (1) veterans' preferences given to OPM and governmentwide new hires has increased since 1990; (2) OPM policies encourage the employment and career enhancement of veterans; (3) OPM guidance explains veterans hiring policies and the responsibilities of OPM veterans program coordinator; (4) OPM routinely reviews veterans preference hiring procedures at various agencies to determine if veterans receive the percentage points to which they are entitled; (5) the Civil Service Reform Act has not weakened MSPB authority over veterans' preference appeals; and (6) women and minorities are disproportionately separated during a RIF because they rank lower than white males in areas such as veterans' preference.

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