Veterans' Reemployment Rights: Steps Needed to Ensure Reliability of DOL and Special Counsel Demonstration Project's Performance Information

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Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In the wake of the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of current and former military servicemembers are undergoing a transition between their military service and their civilian employment. Congress enacted the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) to protect the employment and reemployment rights of federal and nonfederal employees when they leave their employment to perform military or other uniformed service. Among other rights, servicemembers who meet the statutory requirements are entitled to reinstatement to the positions they would have held if ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. June 10, 2011.

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Description

Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In the wake of the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of current and former military servicemembers are undergoing a transition between their military service and their civilian employment. Congress enacted the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) to protect the employment and reemployment rights of federal and nonfederal employees when they leave their employment to perform military or other uniformed service. Among other rights, servicemembers who meet the statutory requirements are entitled to reinstatement to the positions they would have held if they had never left their employment or to positions of like seniority, status, and pay. USERRA applies to a wide range of employers, including federal, state, and local governments as well as private-sector firms. This report focuses on federal executive agencies. Under USERRA, an employee who believes that his or her USERRA rights have been violated may file a claim with the Department of Labor's (DOL) Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS), which investigates and attempts to resolve the claim. If DOL's VETS cannot resolve the claim and the servicemember is a federal government employee or applicant to a federal agency, DOL is to inform the claimant of the right to have his or her claim referred to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) for further review and possible OSC representation before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Under a demonstration project established by the Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2004 (VBIA), from February 8, 2005, through December 31, 2007, OSC was authorized to receive and investigate certain USERRA claims, with DOL continuing its investigative role for others. In 2007, we evaluated the demonstration project and reported to Congress that while both DOL and OSC had policies and procedures for receiving, investigating, and resolving USERRA claims against federal executive employers since the start of the demonstration project, data for reporting outcomes were not sufficiently reliable at either agency. We recommended that the Secretary of Labor develop an internal review mechanism for all unresolved claims before they are closed and claimants are notified and establish internal controls to ensure the accuracy of data entered into DOL's database. DOL agreed with and implemented our recommendations. At the end of this demonstration project, DOL and OSC returned to the USERRA investigation and review procedures in place before the start of the demonstration project. Congress included language in the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010 (VBA) directing OSC and DOL to establish a second demonstration project (36-month duration) for receiving, investigating, and resolving USERRA claims against federal executive employers. Similar to procedures authorized for the first demonstration project, under the current demonstration project, VETS is authorized to investigate and seek corrective action for those claims filed against federal executive agencies if the servicemember's Social Security number (SSN) ends in an even number, and OSC is authorized to investigate and seek corrective action for USERRA claims against federal executive agencies if the servicemember's SSN ends in an odd number. The legislation also directs the two agencies to submit a report to Congress and GAO describing the jointly established methods and procedures to be used in reviewing their relative performance during the demonstration project. Furthermore, VBA mandates that GAO report on the methods and procedures selected by the agencies and may provide any recommendations for improving the design of the demonstration project. The VBA directs the demonstration project to begin no later than 60 days after the GAO report is submitted to Congress and also directs GAO to conduct periodic evaluations of the demonstration project and submit to Congress a report on these evaluations."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • June 10, 2011

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Veterans' Reemployment Rights: Steps Needed to Ensure Reliability of DOL and Special Counsel Demonstration Project's Performance Information, text, June 10, 2011; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc298319/: accessed October 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.