Veterans Preference in Civil Service Reform Letter to Chairman Robert N.C. Nix of the House Post office and Civil Service Committee.
To Chairman Robert Nix
I understand that the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee will begin markup on Civil Service reform this week. As you know, the Civil Service reforms I have proposed to Congress include a number of critically important measures to reform the Civil Service system. Chairman Alan Campbell of the Civil Service Commission has sent you a separate letter outlining our positions on how the Committee has dealt with a number of these issues in its new Committee print. I look forward to the Committee's review of these comments.
I am pleased with the progress that has been made so far and I am confident that the Committee will move responsibly and expeditiously through the markup process.
I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm my commitment to changing the Veterans Preference System in Federal employment, and I urge the Committee to join me in this effort. We owe veterans our deep gratitude for serving their country, and they more than deserve special treatment from our government. However, veterans preference as it presently operates severely interferes with employment opportunities for women and other minorities, discriminates against younger veterans who are outnumbered by veterans who served before, and greatly hampers managerial flexibility.
Under my proposals, veterans preference would be focused where it is most needed: on Vietnam-era veterans and those who are disabled. Veterans preference would not be abolished. Rather, it would be brought into line with its original purpose, to help veterans readjust to civilian life. Let me point out that Congress itself ended veterans preference entirely for non-disabled veterans who entered the service on or after October 16, 1976.
On the Senate side, a compromise had been worked out with some Members of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee which I supported, but which did not carry, but only by a narrow margin. Under this compromise, which I continue to support:
—Veterans preference would be available for one time use for a full 15 years following discharge from the armed forces.
—All veterans would be eligible for an absolute preference where Reductions in Force occur for their first 8 years of Federal employment.
—Veterans preference would be eliminated for retired military officers of field grade rank or above and limited for other military personnel who have retired after at least 20 years in service to 3 years following retirement.
As you know, my veterans preference proposals would not adversely affect disabled veterans. In fact, I also proposed steps to go beyond existing programs for disabled and Vietnam-era veterans. I have agreed that disabled veterans for the first time be permitted non-competitive appointment to Federal service if they either have a 30% or more service connected disability or are involved with a Veterans Administration prescribed job training course.
I have also proposed an extension as well as a significant expansion of the Veterans Readjustment Appointment Authority to aid employment of Vietnam-era and disabled veterans that has now been handled separately by the Veterans Affairs Committees of the House and Senate.
I very much hope that your Committee will be able to act favorably on these proposals in veterans Federal employment policy. Such changes will serve the public interest and are long overdue. They are a vital part of the effort to make government more efficient and responsive to the American people.
I am sending a copy of this letter to all members of the Committee.
[The Honorable Robert Nix, Chairman, House Post Office and Civil Service Committee, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515]
Note: The text of the letter was released on June 21.
Jimmy Carter, Veterans Preference in Civil Service Reform Letter to Chairman Robert N.C. Nix of the House Post office and Civil Service Committee. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248817