An Open Missive to our Federal Elected Officials: Who Polices the Federal Government in Following Hiring Practices?

As a dual-service, disabled veteran, possessing two master-level degrees from accredited colleges and engaged in the pursuit of a Ph.D., I am finding, from personal experience and in speaking to others pursuing employment with disabilities, discrimination is alive and well.  I can understand the discrimination in private sector hiring; I do not like it but understand it.  Risk, costs of health insurance, and costs of doing business increase when hiring those with disabilities.  I do not see government as a “jobs program” in any way; however, the government has taken it upon themselves to enact rules specifically to hire those with disabilities.  Thus, the government should be more open to hiring those of us with disabilities.

People ProcessesFederal Government hiring procedures provide two hiring paths, competitive and non-competitive.  Under competitive, there are several ways of being placed ahead of others and points are awarded for certain hiring preferences, of which being a veteran is but one.  In non-competitive hiring, Schedule A provides for disabled people to sidestep the traditional, or competitive, practices of hiring to have an opportunity of obtaining employment without having to compete with candidates not experiencing the special conditions caused by disability

Disabled people are supposed to be able to employ Schedule A hiring practices for Federal Hiring because disabled people know how difficult it is to be hired for the private sector, city, county, and state government hiring.  Here is where those in hiring positions for the Federal Government are able to bypass the system and not hire disabled people:  no one is policing hiring.  I was informed, very politely, by the Inspector General’s Office that they do not inquire or investigate compliance with regulations for hiring.  The question to you, elected Federal Officials: who polices and ensures compliance with written protocols established by OPM for hiring?

As a disabled veteran, hiring in the private sector has become more difficult as my injuries have become more noticeable, from fall 2010 to present.  Having a disability that is nerve based, causing tics/twitches/spasms, hiring officials acknowledge directly or indirectly that since my cost to employer-based health care will come with a pre-existing condition and higher overall costs in ADA compliance and loss of potential (blue) money, I become the “candidate to beat,” and finally will be told, “you are overqualified,” “you are over-educated,” or my personal favorite “you are not a good fit.”  Thus, after four consecutive years of seeing my ability to be hired in the private sector diminish, I began more heavily pursuing employment with the Federal Government.

In June 2016, I was, finally, awarded a Schedule A letter to add to my documents in Federal Hiring.  With the Schedule A letter, I was provided OPM training on how to be “Direct Hired” and walked through the OPM website governing the policies that govern Schedule A hiring and disability hiring for the Federal Government.  Since the award of the Schedule A letter, I have had a VA hiring official refuse to use the letter claiming VRA and VEOA are both more efficient, and then not hire me for being “overqualified.”  I have experienced hiring managers tell me that “Direct Hire” authority lies with managers, and you need to know those managers to employ Schedule A preference, but the hiring managers cannot tell you who else to speak with to receive Schedule A hiring.  The absolute best excuse has been a hiring manager’s claim that there is no such thing as non-competitive hiring, that all applicants must be hired under competitive hiring standards, and then proceeded to tell me I am not qualified for the position because my degrees were not specifically those desired in the advertisement, even though the advertisement did not specify a specific degree, other than master-level.  Most recently I have been offered positions so far below minimum pay levels only because the government knows that desperation often breeds compliance, even if compliance creates actual harm, all in the name of some future date of possibly being hired for the wages qualified for at the time of hire.

Hence, I emailed the Inspector General’s office regarding these circumstances and received the following reply, “The Inspector General’s Office does not monitor compliance with hiring in the Federal Government.”  Thus, Elected Officials, I ask you, “Who regulates and ensures compliance in hiring for Federal Government positions?”  “Who is accountable for OPM regulations being adhered to by local hiring decision-makers?”  “Where can those who are disabled and trying to work turn for a reconciliation of just grievances?”  You, the elected officials, created this hiring system with preferences for disabled people to find work with the Federal Government, so who is policing the hiring for you?

I have now contacted elected officials in four separate states while living and voting in those areas, Ohio, Arizona, Utah, and Michigan, asking the representatives of elected officials directly the same questions posed in this missive.  Senator McCain’s office was the most oblique and obtuse claiming that if hiring practices are not being followed it is due to a lack of training somewhere, but the issue is not important enough for the senator’s time.  Upon arrival in New Mexico, I asked about hiring at the VA Hospital in Albuquerque and was told by several officials at the VA Hospital that the HR Department was under extra scrutiny due to a significant lack of following the hiring guidelines for Federal Government hiring; but, none of those people could tell me who polices the hiring practices and ensures compliance.

Why is this important; because disabled people are not receiving the kind of hiring support they need.  With the current costs to business operation in the private sector, I can understand, I do not like it, but I can understand, that hiring those with disabilities is going to be a major cash outlay upfront with increased risk.  As a business professional, I understand the risk/cost structure, and I understand that the speed of business dictates finding the lowest cost/risk, candidate.  For the city, county, state, and Federal Government positions, I cannot fathom why disabled people are dragged through such egregious hiring practices.  I did an unofficial survey of 25 Federal Government, NM State, Bernalillo County, and City of Albuquerque employees asking them one simple question, how long did it take for you to be hired initially.  The answers ranged from multiple months to 5 years of constant applying.  If the employee had been promoted, I asked how long did the employee wait for the promotion, and the answers ranged from 3-months in the initial position to 15-years.  As a business professional, I can confidently say this is where enormous amounts of blue (potential) money are being wasted, and as the axiom goes, burn enough blue money and green money, in this case, taxpayer funds, evaporate!

Ways to fix the hiring issue:

  • USAJobs.govEach Federal Government office needs to have a single person solely responsible for Schedule A and all other direct hire authority programs that non-employees can communicate with to apply directly to that organization. All open positions would run through this office first providing the option to request Schedule A preference, and upon that selection, USAJobs.gov would automatically drive the applications to the single person responsible for direct hiring and provide this person’s name and contact information to the applicant.
  • Stop the redundant efforts. Once a background and reference check has completed for one office, make this information available to all offices for 365-days.  With applicants making multiple applications to several different offices, this alleviates contacting those references multiple times, duplicating work, and wasting resources.  The technology to share is already available, and this is a low-cost, high-return option to invoke.
  • Every worker in government expects everything to take an inordinate amount of time to complete work. The longer the waiting game takes, the more potential (Blue) money is wasted exponentially.  Start shaving unproductive hiring practices, processes, and procedures.  Streamlining the hiring process overall is needed!

Blue Money BurningConsider the following as a general guide.  For every five dollars of blue money wasted, fifteen to fifty green taxpayer dollars evaporate.  Thus, when a position is open, the lost potential is the annual salary of the new hire for every month the position remains open and unfilled, and the green money loss is the annual salary of the position open every two months.  Between others having to work harder to cover the open position (Blue), the added strain and stress of working shorthanded (Blue), and the lost productivity of the entire team including the costs of long-term planning (Blue), along with other factors, are “hidden costs” of conducting business.  In the blue money loss, the green money evaporation is found in less time for maintenance, tools, and people are used harder and longer, overtime for important deadlines, and commitments lost are all, but not a complete list, of green money evaporation pits.

  • While not directly a hiring practice, reducing employee churn, training, and promoting more quickly is a best business practice. The people in government make the government, and I am not the only customer service professional pointing to government offices as the epitome of incompetent people wasting resources and destroying morale and customer relationships.

Case in point, at the Regional VA Office in Phoenix, AZ, three people regularly man the front desk and are the face of this VA facility.  Of these three, one person is incompetent and intentionally mean, remarking in demeaning and insulting tones to questions and speaking ill of the veteran they just “helped.”  One is trying and means well.  The third could not be hired to clean road kill off streets and is completely and utterly a drone, for example saying they are working on a task but never accomplishing anything productive.  Several times while being harassed assisted by these individuals, I witnessed the third person asking for help from another employee to staple forms together, asking “where does the staple go in the form again?”  Hence, I was not surprised when Phoenix became the face of incompetent and heartless government workers literally killing veterans.  Clean house of the deadwood, replace with hard-working people and streamline the process of work to reduce the opportunity for drones and hacks to manipulate the system.  Of the 10-15 people that regularly float through the Phoenix VA Regional Office Front-Desk/Waiting Area, I think two might actually be working.  The rest seem to have an amorphous purpose doing ambiguous work in a cloud of confusion taking taxpayer wages for no productivity.

  • Customer service improvement begins internally, employee to employee. Want to slow churn, improve how employees serve each other.  Want to reduce churn significantly, get the supervisors, team leaders, and other organizational leaders out of the office, onto the production floor, and actively exemplifying customer service and professionalism.  Improve employee to employee customer service and departments like the VA and DMV will immediately begin to change their horrendous reputations.

I am not the only person in this country paying taxes and angry about the drones and dregs hired to conduct government business.  It is past time to demand accountability for the taxpayer money waste at all levels of government.  Decreasing waste begins with improved hiring, respect for the government they work for by being honest in their employment, and increased regard for the people they serve.

When an employee commits a crime, they should be able to be fired and never re-hired by the government, then held accountable in a court of law for their crimes.  When an employee does not pay their taxes while working for the government, they should be fired and never re-hired, then held accountable like every other citizen not paying their taxes.  To hear about government computers full of porn, child porn, and online gambling, tells me there are workers that are not being supervised properly, work is not being done, and the supervisor and the offending employee need to be fired and never re-hired, then held accountable in a court of law for their crimes.  Being paid to work and not working is theft!  Child porn is a crime!  Watching porn on a computer while being paid is both sexual harassment and theft, both of which are crimes!

The taxpayer receives a slap to the face when federal, state and county government employees are caught gaming the system for personal profit, are not required to remit the monies ill-gotten, and are not fired, or worse are fired and an obscure union regulation returns them to work at the same salary and position of authority, or worse are promoted after being returned to work.  These are failures in treating people properly, honoring the tax dollars invested, and reflecting a failure of elected officials to supervise government workers needed to run the government.  When will our elected officials become the leaders we are paying them to be, holding those malfeasant characters legally and morally accountable and removing them from employment in government?

Your'e HiredWe hired you, the elected officials, to run the government for us, not to enrich yourselves at our expense, and not to allow nefarious and untrustworthy people to lie, cheat, and steal our tax monies and keep being paid with our tax money!  More egregious still is allowing those who have abused the power of government to cause harm, then allow those abusers to quietly leave the government with their pensions, and no criminal charges are ever pursued, e.g., Lois Lerner among many others.  When you want to know why the approval rating for elected officials is so low, look no further than the issues raised in this missive.  Fix the problems!

In Defense of the Rule of Law – Restoring “… Liberty and Justice for All”

This letter is pertinent to every American citizen as well as those currently holding public office and those seeking to become politicians. Politics has always been an American passion; we talk politics at work with co-workers, across the fence with neighbors, around the kitchen table with family and trusted friends, and almost everywhere else without exception…including public restrooms. Yes, Americans even discuss politics in public restrooms. Conversations overheard and notes written on walls provide plenty of evidence. This is apt; much of the political theater currently thrust into America’s attention is fit only for flushing.

President Lincoln is quoted thus: “Let every American, every lover of Liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their abuse by others. As the Patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear [down] the character of his own, and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the [Constitutional] laws [of America]… become the political religion of the nation.”

President Lincoln continued on to proclaim, “When I so pressingly urge a strict observance of all the laws, let me not be understood as saying there are no bad laws, nor that grievances may not arise, for the redress of which, no legal provisions have been made, I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say, that, although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still while they continue in force, for the sake of example, they should be religiously observed.” The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume I, “Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois” (January 27, 1838), p. 112.

Americans inherently seem to know right from wrong. Living in a Republic is messy and loud. Yet, from the clamoring on two extreme points, fairness, justice, and mercy continue to stand in the common argument for the regulation of society to ultimately benefit all. Since Americans inherently know right from wrong and are generally just and merciful, the most contemptible actions a politician can make is to forget, upon election, he/she must serve all his/her constituents, not only the political party he/she personally adheres to and represents. This contemptible action, witnessed in many past and current political scandals, simultaneously displayed the actions taken at every level of government from the dogcatcher and school board locally to the president’s office federally. For example, President Obama’s decision to hire Arne Duncan as United States Secretary of Education, the multiplicity of “Czar” appointments, the VA scandal across America, the IRS debacle and the continuing saga this represents, and much more, on both sides of the political aisle, all find their roots in the failure to adhere to the rule of law. Supporting a personal political party’s leanings over the rule of law causes all of America to suffer grievously.

Districts elect their politicians, and an elected politician has only one job, which is to represent the citizens, all citizens of this great Republic, at the level of office elected. This means that the higher in political office, the broader the constituent base, and the higher the public’s trust, and hence the more closely the politician must walk in honoring, obeying, and upholding the laws of the land. If the politician’s first waking breath is not commitment to equality under the law and obedience to America’s Constitutional Law, as described by President Lincoln above, he/she is a charlatan, a hoax, a fraudster, and needs removal from holding a position of public trust. More to the point, failure to honor the elected responsibility to constituents is, by law, criminal negligence and warrants a court of action convened in the form of a public hearing held forthwith to determine status of guilt and accountability under the law for failure to uphold the public trust.

Rugged individuals founded America for people who love Liberty. To love Liberty means fair play and equality under the law as the basic and fundamental building block of society. If an individual personally is unable to tolerate individual liberty, that individual remains free to leave America’s shores and find a more suitable place to live among the other nations on Earth.

Too many people in America have failed to embrace personal liberty for their neighbors; thus, compromising personal liberty for themselves and fundamentally jeopardizing liberty for every American. President Lincoln could not have been plainer on this point, and the extreme examples of the last 20+ years on the Federal, State, and Local government levels are obvious. America is in danger not from without, e.g. terrorism, war, etc., but from within, e.g. politicians, who fail to uphold equality under American Constitutional Law and honor the rule of America’s law. The axiom continues to verify itself, “The wise man in the storm does not pray for deliverance from the storms without, but the storms within.” Direct application of hope, faith, and trust dispels fear as a storm within. If a politician holds a position of public trust, people have placed upon him/her their hope and faith that he/she will honor the rule of law for the benefit of all peoples, not simply those who helped him/her become elected.

A particular point of contention generates with “Special Interest Groups.” Special interest groups do not the full population represent; hence, the reason and label of “Special Interests.” Special interest groups are not capable of representing all the population or they would be called “General Interest Groups,” and not every person in America can be represented by such narrow thinking on any issue, let alone the big issues, e.g. abortion rights, religion, immigration, education, etc. Because “Special Interest Groups” do not represent the full population, limiting special interests, disclosing fully special interest funding sources, and issuing complete disclosure of the reason that particular special interest is pushing a specific legislative agenda are key factors. During the Obamacare debates, in full spectacle of the world, America learned a valuable lesson on the need for full disclosure on special interests. Special interest groups intensely supported, as political favors for the benefit of one political group over all others, software that never lived up to the hype and wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. This decision represented a deleterious action full of contempt for the rule of law rather than equal opportunity under the law for all persons. Anytime public money is used to issue a political favor, public trust is breached, the rule of law flouted, and the need for removal from office necessitated; then such persons are held accountable, along with those politically rewarded, in a court of law, and the public’s money is recovered.

The use of public funds in issuing political favors includes employment. Since public employees necessarily receive their wages from public money, politicians breach the public trust should they hire, as a reward for political favors and the public deserves their money back. Kevin Jennings is a specific example; President Obama, through Arne Duncan while in the office of Secretary of Education, hired Jennings as a “Safe Schools Czar.” Duncan knew Jennings would remain a prominent and outspoken member of the LGBTQ agenda through Jennings’ history with GLSEN, as well as a previous executive director for the group and an admirer of Harry Hays of NAMBLA. It seems particularly ironic that to achieve greater public support, under the leadership of Jennings the group GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) changed its name (1997) from the Gay & Lesbian Independent School Teacher Network (GLISTN). His hire represents a significant breach of public trust as a pusher of the LGBTQ agenda. His role in government put him squarely into a position to coerce America’s Public Schools into becoming breeding grounds for the homosexual agenda instead of bastions for learning. Americans felt abhorred that someone who peddles in pedophilia was now in charge of making schools safer. For the record, anytime a legally recognized adult promotes sex with children under the age of legal majority is committing, or aiding in, the crime of pedophilia. By promoting books on adult/children sex, creating book lists and learning platforms promoting this deviant behavior, Jennings has aided and abetted, at the very least, pedophilia in America’s schools. While claiming success due to President Obama’s assistance, the LGBTQ Agenda became “anti-bullying” at a conference hosted by the White House with President Obama being the keynote speaker.

An investment of public money through employment for the political reward of a constituent is what landed Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois in prison. What put him in prison is and continues to be called, “Pay-to-Play.” Investing in a politician that leads to a reward, e.g. employment, with the ability to “play” with the laws of the land remains despicable and worthy of criminal charges with a public trial for all persons in the chain of decision-making; yes, this includes President Obama.

Rest assured politicians can hire whom they choose, but they must do so ever cognizant of the moral fiber and ethical standards of those hired, and the public trust invested through both the voting booth and tax dollars. Kevin Jennings never showed the slightest inclination to support the rule of law or equality under the law for all people. In fact, many of his friends and associates continue to believe that if a person does not think in a similar manner to themselves, that person needs to be destroyed politically, personally, and professionally, this is also referred to as being “Bork[ed].” Represented and exemplified through the actions of such supporters in the removal of Inspector Generals in the Federal Government at large, the changes specifically within the Department of Education, and the cover-ups in the IRS and VA scandals were all designed to hide truth from the American public. This is dangerous ground for America and represents terrorism at the most fundamental level, the terrorism of thought leading to action while holding a position of public trust paid for by public funds. By using the threat of government action to intimidate, coerce, and force societal change, many in government, like Jennings, are committing terrorist acts.

As the elections of 2016 draw near, this missive belongs to the politicians currently holding office as well as those hoping to hold public office: please uphold the rule of law. Please come out in full and unequivocal support of the rule of law and the liberty of all as the only hope for saving America, even if this means people suffer from the consequences of their poor individual decisions. Embrace the rule of America’s Constitutional law. Taxpayers, as represented by their collective elected officials colloquially known as government, cannot and should never be forced to pay for bad personal decisions with public money. Government is not a charitable organization. Hence, government cannot and should not be investing public money in abortion clinics, drug rehab clinics, and other consequences for poor personal decisions. Charitable and religious organizations are sufficient to this task and public money needs investing elsewhere, e.g. providing for the common defense, ensuring free trade among the states, reducing the debt, or lowering taxes, etc.

Stand for the absolute rule of law and America wins. Failure to stand for the rule of law and America loses, utterly and completely. With the failure to stand for the rule of law, politicians elected and trusted by their constituents, who transform themselves into being inadequate to the task to perform according to law. Their names are thence cast upon the dung heaps of history as charlatans and unpitied betrayers of the struggle to keep America the “…shining city on a hill,” full of “…liberty and justice for all.”

 

© 2015 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved