Shutterstock.com

GAO: Federal Agencies Lag in Retaining Veteran Employees

Between fiscal 2014 and 2018, nearly 7% of veterans left federal service, compared with only 5% of non-veterans, the watchdog agency found.

The Government Accountability Office last week reported that although agencies in recent years have improved in their efforts to hire veterans, they have struggled to retain those employees at the same rate as non-veteran workers.

Since a 2009 executive order aimed at boosting veteran hiring in the federal government, agencies have boosted the ratio of veterans in the workforce from 26% to 32% in 2017. But in a GAO report released last week, the watchdog said that in recent years, veterans have been leaving the federal workforce at higher rates their non-veteran counterparts.

Between fiscal 2014 and 2018, an average of 6.7% of veterans left federal service, compared to only 5.0% of similar nonveterans. That dynamic carried across all methods of separation: 3.6% of veterans retired, compared with 3% of nonveterans; 2.3% of veterans resigned compared to 1.5% of nonveterans; and 0.8% of veterans were fired compared to 0.6% of nonveterans.

“After controlling for key demographic and employment factors, we estimated that across all types of attrition, on average, veterans left federal service at 1.2 to 1.6 times the rate of similar nonveterans from fiscal years 2014 through 2018,” GAO wrote.

The disparity in separations is worse when looking at federal workers who were hired and left within the five-year window examined by GAO.

“We found that newly-hired veterans resigned within their first five years of service at 1.7 times the rate of similar nonveterans,” the report stated. “On average, we estimated that 18.7% of veterans resigned within the first five years of federal service, compared to 11.1% of similar newly hired non-veterans—a 7.6 percentage point difference.”

Similarly, while 4.3% percent of veterans were fired within their first five years of service, only 3% of similar newly hired nonveterans were fired, GAO reported.

The key to improving retention efforts to reduce the gap between veterans and nonveterans leaving government could be in tools already available to agencies, namely the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and the Office of Personnel Management’s Enterprise Human Resources Integration data.

GAO analyzed veteran and nonveteran responses to questions on the annual viewpoint survey and found that veterans answered slightly less positively to several questions that are considered key drivers of employee retention.

“The slightly lower scores among veterans for these key drivers of retention may help explain why veterans are leaving federal service at higher rates,” GAO wrote. “If an agency could improve veterans’ satisfaction with the meaningfulness of their work, fewer veterans may leave federal service. Additionally, most veterans and nonveterans reported not being satisfied with opportunities for advancement, indicating this area may be a good opportunity for agencies to improve retention for all employees.”

The report suggested that agencies could improve on retention by using a combination of FEVS data with OPM’s Enterprise Human Resources data, provided that OPM provides it to agencies in a different format.

“To protect respondents’ privacy and prevent the possibility of an employee being identified, OPM does not provide agencies individual responses (i.e. record-level data) to the OPM FEVS,” GAO wrote. “Individual-level data are needed to conduct regression analysis, but the executive branch agencies that rely on the OPM FEVS for insights into their employees’ attitudes about their workplace are not able to perform the regression analyses needed to identify drivers of retention.”

GAO recommended that OPM use data from the annual viewpoint survey to analyze the key drivers of retention for veterans and identify strategies to improve agencies’ efforts to keep employees. In its response, OPM said that it concurred with the “spirit of the recommendation,” but that it is prohibited from providing individual-level data due to the Privacy Act.

“Our recommendation does not ask or require OPM to forgo its obligations under the Privacy Act,” GAO wrote. “As we state in the report, OPM previously used FEVS data to create an employee engagement index and our recommendation is intended to have OPM replicate that experience by developing key drivers to address challenges with retaining veteran employees.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.