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Opening Statement of Hon. John Boozman, Ranking Republican Member, and a Representative in Congress from the State of Arkansas

Good morning everyone.  First, Madame Chairwoman, I hope you had a restful recess and thanks for bringing this important issue before the subcommittee.

The Federal government has a special obligation to make veterans part of its work force and I know that many federal agencies make a real effort to hire and promote veterans.  For example, the military services led by the Army with 43%, Air Force with over 41%, Navy with 38%, and VA with over 23% led the federal government in hiring veterans in FY 2005.

 Unfortunately, there are also agencies that make little or no effort and I hope that today’s hearing will provide us with insights as to how veterans preference laws are working.  I would say that overall numbers show the federal government is making an effort.  For example, according to the OPM report on veterans’ employment in the federal work force for 2005, veterans comprise 27% of federal full time permanent employees and veterans hiring was up in all areas.

If I am disappointed, it is that agencies do not make better use of the special hiring authorities such as Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) to hire even more veterans.

I must say that reading OPM website’s sections devoted to veterans preference is not an easy task – probably because of the multiple laws, hiring authorities and programs in effect for veterans and non-veterans.

Madame Chairwoman, since we have no direct authority over title 5 and the rest of the government, I wonder if we should consider using our jurisdiction to simplify veterans preference just at VA in the same manner we did for small business in PL 109-461?  VA has an overall good record relative to hiring veterans but I think we could help them do even better while not tying the hands of the human resources staff.

Madame Chairwoman, I’m eager to hear from our witnesses and yield back.