Honorable members of the Sub Committee on Oversight and Investigations,
Let me clarify to everyone on the Sub Committee that I do not understand, nor pretend to comprehend the intricacies and inner workings of the Michigan Jobs Commission (MJC) with regard to the former system, nor the newly implemented automated system... nor do I assume to fathom the various and sundry laws and regulations concerning the operational aspects of such (governmental) entities... my concern is and will remain... issues that affect veterans in the State of Michigan, and in this great Nation. My question and concern is simply: Are veterans being serviced with every possible opportunity available? And, are veterans receiving the preferred status and treatment due them?
My limited understanding of the former Michigan Employment Security Commission (MESC) is that veteran services in the various offices throughout the State of Michigan relied on segregated regional (computerized) data bases, or manual file systems. A veteran seeking employment would visit an MESC office, and discuss employment opportunities with a Local Veteran Employment Representative (LVER), or a Disabled Veterans Outreach Workers (DVOW) if these veteran specialists were available. Under the newly implemented system, these regional data bases have gone away, and are replaced by an interactive system via the Internet MESC.
The best advantage of this recently implemented hi-tech system, is that it can be accessed by anyone at practically anytime who has access to a computer, the Internet, and a basic understanding of using an internet browser. These fundamental computer skills are an essential criteria for using the new MJC system. It must be noted that this is also a dictate for employers who wish to use the MJC for hiring, as well as for employers (U.S. Government contractors) who are required to use the governmental employment services stipulated by varied regulations and laws.
A difficulty with the system implemented, February 2, 1998, is that a great number of LVERs, and DVOWs did not have internet access at their facilities. However, a commitment is made by MJC top management that installation of the necessary equipment will begin in April (1998) at all sites. Completion date for installation is not known, but it should not extend through May (1998). An interim solution is proposed to allow sharing of internet resources where LVERs and DVOWs are located.
Please understand that my profession is in the Information Systems arena (15+ years). I sincerely believe that the lack of internet access will be addressed, and remedied by the MJC as well as most employers who will need to use this system. Again, the difficulty and perplexity is that this essential internet capability is not implemented, or available for everyone today.
The issue of veteran preference has been addressed, but only from the MJC point-of-view. The veteran is indicated with a flag symbol for employers searching the job data bank for résumés. This is the only indicator (at present) that denotes a veteran. This indicator does not clearly give veterans preference for hiring, nor is there a different indicator for veterans of the Vietnam Era (service dates, or branch of service are not required at this time in the Michigan résumé bank). Please note: Under Title 38, Part III, Chapter 42, Section 4211(a) it only states that U.S. Government contractors... shall take affirmative action to employ, and advance in employment... this does not, nor has ever mandated that these contractors hire veterans. To me, this is clearly a loop hole that has always existed for U.S. Government contractors.
The Michigan LVERs and DVOWs have to adjust to a different way to work. They must adapt and change to a new system. Good and personal relationships with employers in their local areas must be maintained. Automation can sanitize, and disconnect the personal touch. Job orders in the past have been delivered to LVERs and DVOWs based on these relationships especially with Chrysler Motor Company, Chrysler Transportation, and General Motors. New lines of communication must be devised with the newly implemented automated system. I sincerely believe that automating (via the Internet) is a step in the right direction, however, it may not be the only solution to finding good, career oriented positions with good companies for veterans of the State of Michigan.
My final comment is that automated systems are complex. Inauguration and implementation of a new computerized system is never easy. The MJC system is not an exception. It is extremely complex. But, the veterans of the great State of Michigan have a commitment by the Governor of Michigan, John Engler, that veterans will have input into this newly implemented system. I also believe that Mr. Engler will listen to our comments, and constructive criticisms about the manner in which veterans in Michigan are serviced. A select number of veterans representing various veterans organizations (via the Michigan Commanders Group) have met, and will continue to meet on a quarterly basis to discuss these issues. The Governor is not deaf to our concerns and demands. We, as veterans, are willing to work with the MJC, and the Governor... I would ask the same of U.S. Department of Labor, and the esteemed group on the Sub Committee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on Education and the Workforce for United States House of Representatives.
If you had difficulty understanding what was presented, the technical terms are elementary with Information Systems. Consider the typical person off the street using hi-tech equipment. Further proof that it will take time to implement properly... it will be a long term educational process from which, I hope, we all can benefit.
Thank you for your time. I am humbled and extremely honored to submit this in behalf of, and concern for veterans in the great State of Michigan.
Gary D. Moore, SSgt, USAF, 1968-1972
Update: March 24, 2011