Back in November, I had the great pleasure of joining Director [John] Berry [Office of Personnel Management] in announcing the President’s Veterans Employment Initiative. I said then that that initiative would be good for both Veterans and the federal government. I want to say the same thing here today about the President’s Comprehensive Recruitment and Hiring Reform.
This reform will make it easier for Veterans to seek and obtain federal jobs. It does for Veterans what it does for every federal job seeker: It speeds up the whole process and greatly simplifies the initial application, relieving Veterans of having to write a book just to apply for a job. All they’ll need is a resume.
But the reform also safeguards the rights of Veterans. Those entitled to preference points will see those points applied in the process of determining their quality category. Veterans with 10 preference points will also be placed at the top of their category. The top category won’t be limited by the “rule of three,” so more Veterans will have a shot at rising to the top. If they do, they’ll be the first to be offered the job.
This system of selection has been tested before at the Department of Agriculture, and the result was more Veterans hired. That’s good for Veterans, but it’s also good for the federal government. Veterans make exceptional employees. They are mature beyond their years and eager to live productive, meaningful lives. They are accustomed to working hard and making a difference. They know how to work as a team with others from diverse backgrounds. And they know how to plan, manage, and prioritize tasks to accomplish a mission. The nation has already invested extensively in their training and professional development. Their hard-won experience makes them great citizens and valuable employees.
At VA, we are chomping at the bit to move forward with this reform and compete for our fair share of this great talent pool. We estimate having to hire 105,000 people in the next three years. When I started at VA last year, it took well over 100 days on average to go through the whole hiring process. We intend to reduce this dramatically. This new Comprehensive Recruiting and Hiring Reform will help us get there.
On behalf of Secretary Shinseki, I’d like to thank our colleagues the Office of Personnel Management for their extraordinary efforts in moving forward with this very welcome reform. It’s a great start to strengthening a critical link in the HR value chain — recruiting and hiring. It’s also a potent enabler for the Veterans Employment Initiative, making it much easier for all federal agencies to meet the President’s expectations for doing right by Veterans.