While seeking to fill a top congressional relations job in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), officials are only considering applicants who have previously been laid off from the government, or who are facing imminent layoff.
The VA’s advertisement for an executive to oversee eight congressional liaison officials reads, “located in the [Veterans Health Administration] Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs in Washington, D.C,” and notes that “you will serve as the principal advisor to the Director, and serve as a link between the VHA, the General Counsel, Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs, and other VA offices.”
Following, in bold and underlined text, the ad reads, “This announcement is open to CTAP eligible employees only,” referring to the Career Transition Assistance Program, which assists “surplus” or “displaced” federal workers in finding another government job.
During the 2016 campaign, President Trump pledged to rid the VA of current employees who he asserted were part of a culture of incompetency. However, career federal bureaucrats are working to protect each other’s jobs—particularly at the VA.
Limiting hiring to CTAP shows preference to longtime government employees while prohibiting the hiring of experienced candidates from congressional offices or other relevant backgrounds, as well as veterans who do not have employment experience in the civilian government.
The federal government’s process for Reductions-In-Force focuses on employees with the least tenure and lowest performance scores.
To be considered as a rehire under CTAP, applicants must have earned a “fully successful” performance rating–a three on a five-point scale. According to the Government Accountability Office, 99 percent of federal workers would eligible under CTAP.
According to The Daily Caller News Foundation, “The VA has agreed to a master contract with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) that requires it to give preference to current workers before advertising open positions to outsiders, a concession that obligates agency managers to shuffle the existing VA workforce around rather than getting rid of incompetents and replacing them with new blood.”
The contract prescribes that “prior to considering candidates from outside the bargaining unit, the department agrees to first consider internal candidates for selection … in all cases … first and full consideration shall be given to any best qualified candidates within the facility.”
During Trump’s presidential campaign, he said he would “fire everybody” in the VA, which he claimed was “probably the most incompetently run agency in the United States.”
However, a Monday report by TheDCNF’s Investigative Group revealed that the federal government is actually paying for defense lawyers for managers who have been fired for misconduct.
The report noted that “The lawyers file appeals to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and defend managers against criminal charges, at taxpayer expense. That law was pushed through by lobbyists with the same law firm that is defending some of the VA’s most notoriously corrupt managers, including convicted felon Sharon Helman.”
This issue was addressed by U.S. Navy veteran Lauren Price during Thursday’s live broadcast on DMLdaily, at approximately the 32:30 mark.
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