WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees today applauded the Merit Systems Protection Board’s ruling that the Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP) violates competitive hiring and veterans preference rules under Title 5. AFGE had filed an amicus brief in the case urging the board to strike down the FCIP.
In the Nov. 2 decision, MSPB ruled that the FCIP is inconsistent with Civil Service Rules that govern placement of positions in the excepted service because it does not require agencies to justify placing positions in the excepted service as required by statute. Under Title 5, excepted service authority should be granted only for “positions … for which it is not practicable to hold a competitive examination.” The board therefore ordered the Office of Personnel Management to comply with Title 5.
This inconsistency with Civil Service Rules has a major effect on veterans preference, as demonstrated in the case of Larry Evans, a preference-eligible veteran with a 60 percent service-connected disability who applied for a Veterans Service Representative position at the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2009. VA conducted a competitive examination for the VSR position and generated a certificate with the names of 25 candidates, all of whom were preference-eligible veterans who received near-perfect scores even without veterans preference points being applied. Yet VA filled all nine of the open VSR positions with FCIP appointments under excepted service rules.
AFGE Assistant General Counsel Andres Grajales said AFGE is pleased that MSPB adopted the union’s position that the intern program violates Title 5. “The MSPB decision precludes the Office of Personnel Management from continuing the Federal Career Intern Program until such time that OPM brings the program into compliance with Title 5,” Grajales said.
MSPB also ordered VA to reconstruct the hiring process for the nine VSR positions and make hiring decisions for those positions in accordance with veterans preference rules.