Doing a Favor for a Friend May Get This Fed Fired

The Office of Special Counsel is seeking removal of an employee of the Dept. of Interior for seeking to evade veterans preference requirements in order to hire a friend.

Veterans preference in hiring for government jobs has been a factor of the federal human resources system for decades. And, from reading comments from readers, there is frequently a suspicion that people get promoted or hired because of favortism within the federal human resources system. These two factors taken together can create problems–both for an employee or applicant and for the agency.

There are times when there is more (or less) emphasis on hiring veterans. Under the Bush administration, there has been more emphasis, in large part because of the deployment of large numbers of Americans to overseas hot spots in the Middle East and elsewhere.

The emphasis on veterans preference isn’t a secret. OPM and other agencies routinely issue press releases on different aspects of the program. The Office of Special Counsel has said it intends to ensure the rights of veterans are adhered to throughout the federal bureaucracy.

Here is more evidence the administration is serious about the issue.

The Office of Special Counsel has filed a complaint against an employee of the Fish & Wildlife Service with the Merit Systems Protection Board. The complaint contends that a Wildlife Compliance Specialist employed by the agency worked hard to get around veterans’ preference requirements.

According to the complaint, Carmen Simonton canceled a job posting for a GS-4 Legal Instruments Examiner position after learning that she was required to select a disabled veteran. The vacancy was then reannounced at a grade level at which the veteran could not apply.

OSC contends the employee was attempting to hire a friend for the job but was unable to do so because a disabled veteran had a 10-point advantage with a 30% compensable disability preference and blocked the selection of another candidate lower on the selection list.

The Office of Special Counsel is asking MSPB to fire the employee, reduction in grade, prevent her from getting a federal job for up to five years, suspension, and a fine of up to $1,000.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47