Gaming the System – Federal Employment


Last week the Senate Veterans Committee held a hearing, and heard the testimony of both the leading veterans’ organizations as well as Secretary Shinseki of the Veterans Administration concerning the on-going scandals within the Veterans Administration’s hospitals. There have been numerous incidents of improper care occurring over the last few years, and the House Chairman of the Veterans Committee, Jeff Miller, has been particularly focused on documenting these cases.
Now it was the Senate’s turn, and the apparent catalyst was the maintenance of secret waiting lists at the VA Hospital in Phoenix, AZ, which may have resulted in the deaths of up to 40 veterans since they did not receive timely care. This was brought to light by CNN’s investigative team, headed by Anderson Cooper.
It was discouraging how extensive these problems seemed to be throughout the VA system, and how long they had been occurring, with the full knowledge of the VA administration. It was encouraging, however, that this wrong-doing did not become another Washington “political football.” Both Republican and Democratic Senators were sharply critical of the VA administration, with some calling for the resignation of Secretary Shinseki. Senator McCain, who is NOT on the committee, but was invited to the Hearing since the hospital in question is in his home state, had previously called for jail time for the administrator if the allegations are proven. And Senator Sanders, the Committee Chairman, spoke of how the VA employees would “game the system” to make the apparent waiting times for medical treatment appear to be much less than they actually are.
While the issue of Federal employees “gaming the system” against veterans at the VA has received extensive media coverage, an issue of equal importance to veterans, and the essential topic of this website, employment, has not.

Yet game the system, they do. Purportedly, veterans receive preference in Federal employment. And with some Agencies, they actually do. At other Agencies, there is no doubt that veterans are actually discriminated against, solely based on their veterans status.
Every veteran seeking Federal employment should be aware, and have read in its entirety, the report of Inspector General Gregory Friedman, of the Department of Energy, concerning the routine utilization of “Prohibited Personnel Practices” (PPP’s) at the Bonneville Power Administration. This report was published in October, 2013, and can be read here:
IG Friedman found the use of PPP’s in 49% of the hiring cases over a three year period, and ordered the “reconstruction of the hiring process” in 1200 hiring cases. Bonneville would use overly restrictive qualification criteria to keep the veterans out, and would adjust the category rating system levels after all the applications had been received in order to accomplish the same objective. Why all these illegal shenanigans (“gaming the system”) were occurring was to facilitate the hiring of the friends and relatives of existing employees. (No surprise there: it is not what you know, it is WHO you know.)
Two weeks after the release of this report the senior administration at Bonneville was replaced.
Forewarned is forearmed, as the expression has it, as many veterans will find that some of their hardest battles will occur on the home front.

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