David Dean, who successfully sued the government over the Federal Career Intern Program, said in a filing with the Merit Systems Protection Board that the three-tiered Pathways Programs the White House unveiled last month "merely restate and re-implement the Federal Career Intern Program" and should be brought in line with veterans preference. (Staff)
The veteran who successfully sued the government over the Federal Career Intern Program is now turning his sights on the hiring programs the White House wants to replace it with.
David Dean said in a Jan. 18 filing with the Merit Systems Protection Board that the three-tiered Pathways Programs the White House unveiled last month "merely restate and re-implement the Federal Career Intern Program" and should be brought in line with veterans preference.
"It's basically just FCIP redux," Dean said in an interview with Federal Times. "I see no difference between Pathways and FCIP. It's still set up to bypass veterans hiring."
Dean, a disabled Army veteran, last year successfully argued that the Labor Department violated his veterans preference rights by filling job vacancies through the Federal Career Intern Program, which allowed the agency to target recruitment to specific colleges' job fairs or websites. MSPB agreed with Dean's argument that this unfairly blocked veterans from competing for federal job opportunities and last November ordered OPM to bring FCIP in line with veterans preference rules.
One month later, the White House said it would shut down FCIP by March 1 and replace it with the Pathways Programs, under which agencies can hire interns still in high school or college, recent college graduates, or as Presidential Management Fellows. Agencies would be able to convert participants without competition to temporary or career appointments that include a one-year probationary period.
But Dean said the proposed Internship Program would exclude veterans who are not in college, and the Recent Graduates and Presidential Management Fellows programs would prevent veterans who don't have college degrees from applying for some jobs, "effectively [negating] veterans preference."
"We need to make sure we don't get back into going to colleges and recruiting people by name and making on-the-spot hires," Dean said. "That's not right."
Dean also wants MSPB to remove all FCIP-hired employees still under their two-year probationary period and refill their positions using the standard hiring process. If MSPB grants his request, tens of thousands of employees hired under FCIP in the last two years would lose their jobs.
John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership for Public Service, said he doubts MSPB would grant that request.
"Those hires were made under the authority of the president," Palguta said. "They were perfectly legal."
Palguta also said veterans will still have opportunities to find federal jobs through the Pathways Programs, since many veterans attend college after they leave the service. The Recent Graduates Program would also give veterans more time to join the program. Anyone who has to complete military service after graduating would be able to join the program up to six years after receiving a degree. All other participants would only have two years.
Dean wants MSPB to appoint a neutral panel to implement the new programs that will replace FCIP, because he feels the Office of Personnel Management mismanaged FCIP for its decade of existence.
"OPM officials' negligence resulted in abolition of the FCIP and the implementation of the programs listed above," Dean wrote. "OPM officials cannot be trusted to correctly implement programs that replace the FCIP without outside supervision."
OPM is supposed to respond by Feb. 2, but on Jan. 19 asked MSPB for a 30-day extension.