The House Veterans Affairs Committee plans hearings this week that will include the first formal scrutiny by Congress of the general federal hiring freeze that is now nearly two months old.
That will be one of the topics in a general examination of the hiring practices and general state of the workforce at the Veterans Health Administration.
Numerous bills have been proposed to scale back the freeze–for example, by exempting certain categories of work on a blanket basis rather than leaving it up to the agency to decide who fits in the freeze’s exceptions–but none of them have been the subject of hearings.
While the hiring freeze has come up at several congressional hearings in the context of discussions of other workplace issues, this will be time the topic is specifically on the agenda, and at a high-visibility agency.
An announcement said the panel will also examine the “VHA’s overly bureaucratic and lengthy hiring processes that hinder VA’s ability to recruit and retain high-quality employees, as well as evaluate how staffing needs at the local level are identified and communicated, how recruitment and retention in high-need areas are prioritized and addressed, and whether significant increases in the total number of VHA employees over the last decade have improved the delivery of services to veteran patients.”