DCCUMENT ESUME 03783 - A2794036] [Veterans' Preference in the Federal Civil Service]. October 4, 1977. 8 pp. Testimony before the Senate Committee on Post Cffice aid Civil Service: Civil Service Policies and Practices Subcommittee; by Clifford I. Gould, Deputy Director, Federal Personnel and Compensation Div. Issue Area: Personnel Management and Compensation (300). Contact: Federal Personnel and Compensation Div. Budget Function: Veterans enefits and Services: Other Veterans Benefits and Services (705); General GoverEment: Central Personnel Management (e05). Organization Concerned: Civil Service Commission. Congressional Relevance: Senate Committee on Post Office and Civil Service: Civil Service Policies and Practices Subcommittee. Authority: Veterans Preference Act. A review was conducted to determine the impact of veterans' preference on the register placement of applicants and their opportunities for certification and selection to Federal entry-level positions. The preference accorded veterans in competing for Federal civil servicz jobs adversely affects all nonveterans. Specifically, he problems qualified women applicants may have in competing for Federal employment was assessed by examining whether women were being ranked lower or displaced from their positions on civil service registers because, as a group, they lacked veteran status. The adverse effects of veterans' preference were demonstrated by the: (1) displacement of women on civil service registers; (2) loss in ranking position of women on registers; (3) additional qualifications needed by nconvreteran women tc compete with veterans; and (4) lack of women on some civil service certificates. It was not possible tc ascertain whether women were represented on civil service registers in proportion to their availability. Veterans' preference conflicts with the policy of providing equal employment opportunity to all job applicants, particularly women. t interferes with the principle of merit as the basis for selection to the Federal service. (Author/SW) FOR RELEASE ON DELIVERY Expected at 9:30 a.m. EST October 4, 1977 STATEMENT OF CLIFFORD I. GOULD DEPUTY DIRECTOR, U.S. GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON CIVIL SERVICE DORING OVERSTGHT HEARINGS ON VETERANS' PREFERENCE IN THE FEDERAL CIVIL SERVICE Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: I appreciate your invitation to discuss our recent report to the Congress on the conflict between to major congressional policies: veterans' preference and equal empiynuent opportunity. Today, I will briefly outline for you the scope of our review work, our findings and respond to any questions you may have concerning the report. While the report deals with both veterans' preference and apportionment I will limit my comments to veterans' preference since this committee and the House of Representatives have already recommended that the apportionment requirement be repealed. The Civil Service Commission was established nearly 100 years ago to bring a merit system of employment to Government service. Broadly speaking, merit means ecruiting, selecting, and advancing persons on the basis of factors relevant to job performance: knowledge, skills, and abilities. The principle of merit in selection require; that CSC operate a competitive examining system that provides equal opportunity for employment to all job applicants. Thus, we see that one of the basic tenets underlying the concept of merit is equal employment opportunity. Veterans' preference in Federal civilian employment originated as a debt of gratitude or remuneration for services to the Nation. It has been successful in rewarding veterans, as evidenced by the fact that veterans comprise 50 percent of the Federal civil service. However, veterans' preference must also be viewed from the perspective of other mardated policies and national needs. Our report indicates that the current policy of awarding veterans continuing, life-time preference in competing for entry into the Federal civil service conflicts with the principle of EO in merit selection. Because few women have veteran status, their opportunities for Federal employment are diminished by the current operation of veterans' preference. veterans' preference limits the ability of Federal agencies to achieve equal employment opportunity for women. SCOPE OF REVIEW During September 1976, we began a detailed review of the impact of veterans' preference in determining register place- ment and certification of applicants. We believed such information would provide the Conress and the public with a meaningful basis for evaluating the efects of veterans' 2 preference o the peration of the Federal merit examining and equal employment opportunity programs. Our review was conducted at the Civil Service Commission in Washington and at CSC regional and area offices in Atlanta, Dallas, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. We examined CSC's policies and procedures for implementing the Veterans' reference Act. We interviewed CSC personnel, as well as personnel manage- ment and EEO officials of 22 other departments and agencies. Our review did not cover the preference in retention which is afforded to veterans in a reduction-in-force situation, nor did it encompass the degree or source of disability of veterans receiving 10-point preference. What we set out to do was determine the impact of eterans' preference on the register placement of applicants and their opportunities for certification and selection tc Federal entry-level positions. The preference accorded veterans in competing for Federal civil service jobs--additional rating points, preferred reg- ister placement and certification--adversely affects all nonveterans. Our report, however, specifically deals with problems qualified women applicants have in competing for Federal employment. Because neither the Selective Service System nor military authorities have encouraged women to serve in the Armed Forces until recently, only a small nmber of women have entered military service and obtained preference 3 eligible status. To determine the effects of veterans' preference on the employment opportunities of women, we reviewed CSC registers, rating schedules, and certifications to ageicies. FINDINGS To demonstrate the effects of veterans' preference we assessed whether women were being displaced from their po- sitions on CSC registers because, as a group, they lacked veteran status. To do this, we determined the ratings applicants needed to be certified from particular registers. The percentages of men and women who would be certified based on this rating was determined, fi:st, with veterans' preference; then with veterans' preference not considered. Our review showed that for 36 of 44 registers examined, the potential for women to be certified increased when preference was not considered. We founid that large numbers of highly qualified women cannot be certified to Federal agencies for employment consideration because they are being displaced on registers by the preference afforded to veterans. For example, on the Correctional Officer register (GS-6) 225 eligibles had certifiable ratings. Wth preference included 40 (18 percent) of the 225 eligibles were women. Without veterans' preference, there were 74 women eligibles available for certification. By excluding the extra points 4 and preferred register placement awarded veterans, the representation of women within certification range. :ose 85 percent. A second way we determined the impact of prefescnce was to calculate the number of register positions women applicants would advance if veterans' prefecice was excluded in ranking applicants on registers. We found individual women who achieved perfect or nearly perfect scores in CSC examinations ranked behind other applicants with lower scores. Without preference, women applicants would have a better chance of being selected. For example, in San Francisco, 4 women scoring 99 on the accountant/auditor examination moved up almost 100 positions on the register if preference was not considered. Modifying veterans' preference would significantly improve the opportunities of women applicants o be certified from some CSC registers. Our report also illustrates the substantial additional qualifications nonvetcran women need to compensate for the five- point preference awarded to veterans. Even with additional quali- ficat;ons, the r:dferences awarded to veterans are often insur- mountable barriers for female applicarts, since veterans dre placed ahead of nonveterans with the same ratings, and selecting officials genet. cannot pass over a veteran to hire a nonveteran. Agencit - rided numerous examples of CSC certificates with large numbers of veterans tnat lacked female candidates for employment consideration. We were unable to ascertain whether women were represented on CSC registers in proportion to their availability. However, in our opinion, the adverse effects of veterans' preference are demonstrated by the (1) displacement of women on CSC registers, (2) loss in ranking position of women on CSC registers, (3) additional qualifications needed by non- veteran women to compete with veterans, and (4) lack of women on some CSC certificates. This strongly indicates that veterans' preference is a formidable barrier to employment of qualified women who do appear on mniny registers. Finally, we analyzed selected registers in Dallas and San Francisco because several agencies expressed concern that retired military personnel were at the top of registers. In the San Francisco region, 7 of the 10 registers we analyzed had retired military personnel among the top 10 register positions. Some agencies believe that the concentration of military retirees at the top of many CSC registers has prevented non- veterans, particularly women, and even other veterans from gaining Federal employment. Veterans' preference for retired military personniel is, in our opinion, contrary to the idea of compensating veterans for time lost in their careers. The Federal agencies we contacted had probler.s obtaining women from many CSC registers because of veterans.' preference. 6 Since registers are the prirary source of applicants for Federal jobs, the blockage of women on these registers has hampered agencies in meeting the hiring goals set forth in their affirmative action plans. While intensive recruiting lay increase the number of women on registers, their oppor- tunities to be certified and the agencies' ability to accom- plish affirmative action plan goals will not improve if veterans re at the top of the registers. CSC ecourages agencies to make use of a variety of hiring practices (e.g., cooperative education, Upward Mobility, etc.) when problems are encountered in obtaining women eligibles from CSC registers. However, these programs usually offer only limited hiring opportunities. These practices can be costly and time-consuming, and smaller agencies may find such programs to be an inefficient use of resources. Agencies suggested various modifications to alleviate the impact of veterans' preference. Most frequently suggested were (1) imposition of a time limit for possible use of veterans' preference and (2) limitation on the application of preference to a one-time use, such as first civilian employment. CONCLUSIONS The goal of compensating and rewarding veterans by awarding them preference for entry into the Federal civil service conflicts with the policy of providing equal 7 employment opportunity to all job applicants, particularly women. Veterans' preference interferes with the principle of merit as the basis for selection to the Federal service. Agencies have and will continue to have problems in hiring women because of current veterans' preference requiremcats. In commenting on our draft report, agencies expresser general agreement that something needs to be done to balance the Nation's obligation to its veterans and its obligation to provide equal employment opportunity for women. The question of whether and to what extent one congressional policy objective hould take precedence over another is a matter for the Congress to decide. However, we urge the Congress to reconsider whether granting pre- ference in its present form is appropriate in light of its contradiction to EEO. If the Congress wishes to lessen the existing conflict between veterans' preference and EEO, modifications could be implemented that would diminish th- adverse impact of veterans' preference. 8
Veterans' Preference in the Federal Civil Service
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-10-04.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)