Hispanic Groups Blast OPM

Mollie Ziegler, Federaltimes.com, August 15, 2006

[See earlier story in the AmRen archive for 2004.]

A coalition of Hispanic organizations is condemning the Office of Personnel Management for failing to promote more government hiring and retention of Hispanic employees.

The groups say the agency has delayed guidance to agencies looking to improve their Hispanic hiring, and not held agencies accountable for their failures to hire enough Hispanics.

The National Hispanic Leadership Association (NHLA), which represents 40 groups, handed the agency a failing grade in its Aug. 1 report, “Evaluation of OPM’s Efforts to Improve Hispanic Representation in the Federal Workforce.”

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“If we truly believe in the social values and the importance of having a representative government, we must do all that we can to ensure that all segments of our society are given the opportunity to participate in it,” said Manuel Miraba, co-chairman of NHLA’s government accountability committee.

Added Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic activist group: “We are particularly concerned that some of the lowest levels of Hispanic employment were found at the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, both of which oversee programs critical to the Hispanic community.”

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OPM officials declined to comment on the report.


A coalition of 40 Hispanic organizations yesterday faulted the Office of Personnel Management for failing to improve Hispanic hiring across government and called for congressional hearings on the issue.

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda gave the OPM an “F,” saying that federal hiring of Hispanics has declined in recent years and that the percentage of Hispanics in the career Senior Executive Service appears to be on a downward trend.

Hispanics make up 7.4 percent of the federal workforce but are 13.5 percent of the nation’s labor force, the coalition said. Hispanics are the only underrepresented minority group in the civil service, according to OPM data.

“These intolerable levels of underrepresentation are nothing short of systemic, institutional discrimination and must be addressed now,” Gilbert Sandate , a recently retired federal executive, said at a news conference at which the coalition released a 30-page report on Hispanic employment trends.

A spokesman for the OPM said the agency had not seen the report and could not comment.

OPM reports portray the government as a leader in employing minorities. As of September, the government employed 125,419 Hispanics in full-time civil service jobs.

Leaders of Hispanic groups said a diverse federal workforce promotes public health and safety and enhances the delivery of programs and services. They also pointed to a long tradition of military service among Hispanics as a sign of their interest in public service.

“We are willing and able to serve if given the opportunity,” said Janet Murguia , president of the National Council of La Raza.

Sandate said, “If we are good enough to defend and die for our country, we ought to be good enough to serve it as government employees.”

(About 10 percent of the troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan are Hispanic, and they are 11 percent of all casualties, according to the Pentagon.)

Although hiring for most federal jobs is controlled by agencies and not the OPM, the coalition singled out the OPM for criticism because a 2000 presidential order requires the OPM to oversee minority recruitment and to recommend “actions that are appropriate to eliminate the underrepresentation of Hispanics in the federal workforce.”

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