By Joe Davidson, The Washington Post
November 11, 2009
Speaking of jobs, President Obama has just signed an Executive Order Designed to facilitate the hiring of more veterans by the federal government. The quiet signing ceremony in the Oval Office on Monday evening established an interagency council, requiring that progress be tracked and reported back to the president. The executive order created a mechanism with teeth.
"This is a very definite step forward in what veterans can take advantage of," Clarence E. Hill, the American Legion's national commander, said in an interview. "There has never been anything like a veterans employment office. This is a big step," added Hill, who attended the signing.
Soon after Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry took office this spring, he listed increased employment opportunities for veterans as one of his goals.
The executive order signed by the president establishes a Council on Veterans Employment, tasked with creating a government-wide program to increase hiring of vets and instituting measures to gauge how well Uncle Sam does. There were approximately 480,000 veterans working for the federal government at the end of fiscal year 2008, according to the White House. How that number changes will tell the tale of the order's effectiveness.
"We know exactly right now how many vets each agency in government is hiring," Berry said. "We will know very clearly a year from now if we have succeeded -- or are we on the right track, or have we missed the mark? The metric for accountability on this is very clear: Are more vets getting jobs in the federal civil service?"
The order lists 24 executive branch agencies that each must form a Veterans Employment Program "to be responsible for enhancing employment opportunities for veterans within the agency." The agencies are told to develop an operational plan, training programs for disabled vets, and mandatory instruction for human resources personnel and hiring managers on veterans' preference.