VA Grapples With Federal Hiring Freeze, Exemption Sought

By Sandra Basu

Prospective employees talk with James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital representatives during the annual Veterans Job and Information Fair in Tampa, FL, last year. Concerns have been raised about how a federal hiring freeze will affect the VA. VA photo

WASHINGTONShortly after taking office last month, President Donald Trump ordered a freeze on the hiring of federal civilian employees across the executive branch, raising questions on how the VA would be affected.

“As part of this freeze, no vacant positions existing at noon on January 22, 2017, may be filled and no new positions may be created, except in limited circumstances. This order does not include or apply to military personnel,” the executive order stated.

It further said that “the head of any executive department or agency may exempt from the hiring freeze any positions that it deems necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities,” and that OPM “may grant exemptions from this freeze where those exemptions are otherwise necessary.”



Should VA be automatically exempted from federal hiring freezes?

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The hiring freeze expires upon implementation of a plan that OPM must recommend within 90 days of the executive order to “reduce the size of the federal government’s workforce through attrition.”

As for the VA, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said last month that the VA system is “broken” and the hiring freeze is meant to “pause” hiring and “allow there to be an analysis” of what could make the system better.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Holly T says:

    Careful evaluation of current VA positions and programs is detrimental to prevent unnecessary hiring. Just like the government, the VA is run in Silos, one silo doesn’t talk to the other leading to multiple people performing the same job.

  2. cynthia rasmussen says:

    so much government funds wasted in the va system should be reevaluated before moving forward

  3. William Douglass, MD says:

    As far as the VA’s supply of doctors, there may be no need to hire more if the VA would create a real, and substantial, productivity-based bonus system.

    Primary care doctors would see more patients and specialists would see to it that their departments would do the requisite workups, instead of DISCONTINUING the consults and dumping the tasks back onto the primary care doctors.

  4. Michele S says:

    I don’t think a hiring freeze with solve the problem with the VA or any other federal agency. The problem with the Federal government and it’s hiring practices is that its main focus is hiring veterans whether they are qualified or not… that is the problem. The focus is not on qualifications it is on veteran status especially if you are a disabled veteran. I can speak for myself and my own experiences. I work with so many veterans in a customer service environment that can barely work with patient’s because they supposedly have PTSD issues so they can’t control their anger, they can’t be around people or they can’t have people around them. These are the people that are being hired. Eventually these employees get a special accommodation so they don’t have to work around people or the population of who they were hired to serve and they end up getting their own offices doing nothing and then we end up with a whole entire building full of employees doing nothing. It is not fair for a non veteran like me who has to work 100 times harder to maintain, to get recognized, to get a chance for promotion etc. I always used to hear how federal employees were lazy and I never understood it until I actually started working for the federal government. It’s the entitlement people feel. Most of the employees that hold federal jobs have already retired from federal service due to military service and they are also receiving a VA disability check that’s tax free income I might add so they really don’t need a job… they are just employed to earn extra money to live high on the hog. This sets their mentality to allow them to not care about their work ethic, their timeliness, their drive or their dedication. They don’t work as hard as their fellow employee who has nothing else to fall back on.
    I believe that if the hiring practices were changed in a more competitive way, equal for everyone, the government entities would prosper and change tremendously for the better.

  5. Maria Romanas, MD, PhD says:

    Our department is receiving more cases (patient’s biopsy and surgical specimens) than we can handle with the number of pathologists we have right now. With the backlog of cases, we often do not receive the slides until 5-7 days after the procedure is done.

    We need more pathologists or a less expensive solution would be to hire 2 pathology assistants to assist with grossing in the specimens so that the pathologists can absorb a higher workload and get rid of the backlog.

    A routine delay of diagnoses for a week or more is unacceptable by any standard.

  6. Denise Feil, MD, MPH says:

    Restructuring yes–hiring freeze NO.

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