(Ed. Note, this is duplicated just as I received it. A couple of bits may be confusing, but the message is very clear.)
Representative Wally Herger (R-CA)
I appreciate this opportunity to address the Committee on the important matter of racial and gender preferences in federal agency hiring and promotion decisions. Mr. Chairman, I have several documents that I would request unanimous consent to be included in the record which are numbered and have been made available to the members of the committee.
Mr Chairman, I represent an area which includes all, or parts of eight national forests and I have had dozens of US Forest Service employees contact me to express their disgust with the forest Service's discriminatory and unfair hiring and promoting practices.
They tell me about how careers have been derailed, morale has been devastated, personnel costs have skyrocketed, and public resources and even public safety have been put at risk due to the imposition of bizarre hiring and promotion decisions. According to Webster's Dictionary the word "discriminate" is defined as to make a difference in treatment or favor on basis other thatn individual merit.
Mr. Chairman, I will use my time today to exhibit how the US Forest Service has continually and blatantly engaged in discriminatory hiring and promotion practices and has outright failed to hire on the basis of merit for many positions.
Example 1: One Forest Service job announcement declared that, and I quote "Only Unqualified Applicants May Apply", unquote. This was an attempt by the Forest Service to avoid hiring or promoting qualified employees in order to fill the jobs with minority. . . but unqualified employees. If this is not discrimination, I don't know what is.
Example 2: Notes from a Forest Service Civil Rights Action Group meeting state, quote, "there are many factors involved in the selection process and the objective is to select a qualifiedperson, not necessarily the most qualified," unquote. Again, the Forest Service is directing their supervisors to not hire the most qualified individual. . .that's discrimination.
Example 3: A memo from a Forest Service Assistant Director for Affirmative Action states, quote "The only legal requirement f e to meet entry level qualification requirements. Greater tenure may produce candidates who are over qualified but that is irrelevant to the issue at hand, which is getting on with and agency affirmative action program", unquote.
I cannot imagine too many private sector business' that would last very long if they deliberately passed over the most qualified person for the job. This is discrimination.
Example 4: A "White Paper" produced by the Plumas National Foreset, which is located in my Congressional District, spells out in grim detail the consequence of quota hiring plans. Quote, "In a growing number of instances, we are not filling positions when there are no women applicants. In the past three months, we have either re-advertised, left vacant, or filled with unqualified temporaries eleven permanent positions becaue we could not find female applicants. If the position is in fire prevention or forest fuels management, the job simply doesn't get done and we face the consequence of additional person-caused fires". Continuing with the quote, "When the roster was completed, the majority of applicants were male and the top of the roster was blocked by male veterans. The Plumas attempted to fill five fire positions from the roster, but could only reach two women. Both women declined our offers. No offers were made to men. All fire positions are presently vacant or filled by unqualified temporary employees", end quote.
Now, with this example, not only are federal workers being discriminated against by the Forest Service, but civilian citizens are being put at risk. Innocent people could have died or had their homes destroyed because the Forest Service refused to fill critical fire fighting positions due to their ridiculous quota requirements.
When cirticised for its quota policies, the Forest Service often blames a court order to diversify their workforce. However, a 1994 letter from the Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Administration states, quote "The (consent) decree required that one selection factor in all cases was to be whether the applicant contributed to the Agency's diversity. . .It also limited the use of this factor either as tie-breaker when all other quaifications were equal, or as one of several factors", unquote. The letter goes on to say that only, quote "One of those expectatons is that competitive promotions will be based on merit factors. If someone comptetes for a position and is the best pqeson quaified for the job, he or she will be selected", unquote.
Regrettably, that was not the case.
Clearly, the consent decree did not mandate the abandonment of all common sense. But, the Forest Service has gone well beyond the requirements of both the court and common sense. Indeed, a memo from one Forest Supervisor warned his employees against aggressively pursuing diversity goals and admitted that doing so was a violation of the law.
Quoting from the document, "free and open discussion have occurred regarding such things as creating or filling a position with an affirmative action candidate or not filling the position at all, or providing significant career enhancing opportunities/education to affirmative action candidates that are not available to other candidates. These types of discussions are violation of the laws and regulations mentioned and should not occur, and the penalties for this type of conduct are severe", unquote.
Mr. Chairman, the Forest Service is admitting that what they are doing is in violation of the law. Furthermore, this is still happening now. In February of this year, under strong criticism because of its quota policies, the Forest Service issued a Merit Promotion plan. The plan stipulates that promotions "shall be based solely on job-related criteria". But a few paragraphs following that statement, the document explains that, quote "Selection procedures will provide for managements right to select or not select from among a group of best qualified candidates", unquote. How can it be a merit plan if it specifically permits the Forest Service to avoid selecting from the pool of best qualified candidates even in an attempt to solve their acknowledged problems with discrimination, the Forest Service once again astablishes unfair hiring and promotion practices. The Forest Service quota policies are inequitable to both the public and our federal employees. They are divisive, morally indefensible, and blatantly unfair.
We cannot combat past discrimination by engaging in yet more discrimination. I commend the committee for addressing this crucial issue.