By Eric Katz
January 18, 2018
VA hired a total of 40,000 people in 2017, but due to attrition and turnover the department saw a net gain of just 8,300 employees. While Secretary David Shulkin praised VA for that onboarding total, it is actually slightly below the number of net employees it gained annually over the last five years and the department maintains 35,000 vacancies.
The Veterans Affairs Department is opening up an array of job vacancies to a more expedited hiring process, using a new authority to fill longstanding openings.
VA has received approval to move forward with direct hiring for 15 occupations deemed critical, the department’s secretary told senators at a hearing on Wednesday. He received authority to do so when President Trump signed the 2017 VA Choice and Quality Employment Act in August, which tasked VA with using the quicker hiring process for positions with a “severe shortage of candidates.” The department has since worked with the Office of Personnel Management to approve the 15 positions.
Those are: accountants, biomedical equipment support specialists, boiler plant operators, general engineers, specialists for the veterans crisis line, health technicians, histopathology technicians, human resources assistants and specialists, information technology specialists, personnel security specialists, police officers, realty specialists, utility systems operators and repair specialists. The direct hire authority applies to those positions throughout the country.
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