Denver – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet sent a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie and U.S. Office of Personnel Management Acting Director Michael Rigas urging them to review current requirements to address staffing shortfalls at the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center in Denver.
As a result of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Denver’s Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center has seen an increased demand for custodial and housekeeping staff. Current requirements, though well-founded and important, are delaying hiring and making it difficult to meet the growing need in a timely manner.
“I ask that the VA address the urgent need for custodial and housekeeping staff to allow the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center to meet the demand for an urgently-needed workforce by allowing access into a greater pool of applicants more quickly,” Bennet wrote.
Title 5 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 330.401 states that “competitive examinations for the positions of custodian, elevator operator, guard, and messenger are restricted to preference eligibles as long as a preference eligible is available.” Under 5 CFR 211.102, “Preference eligible means a veteran, disabled veteran, sole survivor veteran, spouse, widow, widower, or parent who meets the definition” under federal code. This restriction, though important to ensuring preference given to those deserving, has the effect of greatly delaying the hiring process in times of crisis when there are individuals who are not preference eligible ready to step in to serve in much needed roles.
The text of the letter is available HERE and below.
Dear Secretary Wilkie and Acting Director Rigas,
I write today concerning impending staff shortages in the custodial and housekeeping fields at the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center in Denver, Colorado.
As a result of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and to ensure compliance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center has a higher demand for custodial and housekeeping staff and a critical need to hire rapidly. However, due to 5 CFR 330.401, they are required to give preference to veterans and other specified groups for any custodial and housekeeping positions. While I applaud this important rule, the pandemic requires we meet new demands in a timely way to potentially include temporary Direct Hire Authority Waivers. The current requirements are exacerbating the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) ability to meet immediate needs.
I ask that the VA address the urgent need for custodial and housekeeping staff and allow the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center to meet the demand for an urgently-needed workforce by allowing access into a greater pool of applicants more quickly.
Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.Sincerely,