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VA Grapples With Federal Hiring Freeze, Exemption Sought

By U.S. Medicine

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.”

 

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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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