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Highlights

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) protects the employment and reemployment rights of individuals who leave their employment to perform uniformed service. Concerned with the timeliness of USERRA complaint processing and data reliability of agency reports, Congress imposed timeliness requirements for the Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Office of Special Counsel (OSC) under the Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2008 (VBIA 2008) and required agencies to submit quarterly reports to Congress on the extent of their compliance with the requirements. As required by VBIA, this report assesses whether the agencies (1) met VBIA timeliness requirements for USERRA complaint processing, and (2) submitted reliable and timely quarterly reports. GAO analyzed data in each agency's USERRA database, and the extent to which those data were consistent with the quarterly reports.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
To help ensure that Congress is fully apprised of efforts to resolve a case, Congress may wish to consider amending USERRA to require DOJ and OSC to report on additional time taken to resolve a matter after they decline representation.
Open
As of January 11, 2021, this matter has not yet been considered by Congress.
To help ensure that that servicemembers who file complaints are adequately being informed of their USERRA complaint process rights in accordance with VBIA 2008, Congress may wish to consider amending USERRA to require DOL to report on the extent to which it is notifying complainants of their USERRA complaint process rights within 5 days of filing a complaint.
Open
As of January 11, 2021, this matter has not yet been considered by Congress.
To help ensure that DOJ handles state cases as expediently as private employer cases, Congress may wish to consider amending USERRA to specifically require DOJ to adhere to the same 60-day deadline for state employer matters that they must adhere to for matters against private employers.
Open
As of January 11, 2021, this matter has not yet been considered by Congress.
To help ensure that servicemembers in state employer cases are kept apprised of the status of DOJ's decision making without potentially compromising DOJ's ability to successfully bring suit against state employers, Congress may wish to consider amending USERRA to require DOJ to notify these servicemembers of the status of DOJ's efforts.
Open
As of January 11, 2021, this matter has not yet been considered by Congress.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Special Counsel 1. The Secretary of Labor, Attorney General, and Special Counsel should establish consistent criteria for including cases in their quarterly USERRA reports to Congress.
Closed - Implemented
To resolve this issue, the Attorney General has adopted the same criteria already in use by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and Department of Labor (DOL). All three agencies are now reporting their cases in the same manner, using the same criteria.
Department of Labor 2. The Secretary of Labor, Attorney General, and Special Counsel should establish consistent criteria for including cases in their quarterly USERRA reports to Congress.
Closed - Implemented
To resolve this issue, the Attorney General has adopted the same criteria already in use by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and Department of Labor (DOL). All three agencies are now reporting their cases in the same manner, using the same criteria.
Department of Justice 3. The Secretary of Labor, Attorney General, and Special Counsel should establish consistent criteria for including cases in their quarterly USERRA reports to Congress.
Closed - Implemented
To resolve this issue, the Attorney General has adopted the same criteria already in use by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and Department of Labor (DOL). All three agencies are now reporting their cases in the same manner, using the same criteria.
Department of Labor 4. The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for the Veterans' Employment and Training Service to ensure that a system is in place to monitor compliance with notification of rights requirements similar to those used to assess compliance with other statutory deadlines, including maintaining data on such compliance.
Closed - Implemented
The Veterans Employment and Training Service implemented a process for centralized receipt of hard copy complaint forms. The new process for manually-submitted forms replicates the process used for electronically-submitted forms. VETS tracks notification of rights for electronically-submitted and manually-submitted claims through databases including a spreadsheet-based claims logging system.
Department of Labor 5. The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for the Veterans' Employment and Training Service to develop guidance and oversight mechanisms to ensure that changes are entered into the USERRA database as the quarterly reporting data are updated.
Closed - Implemented
In response to our recommendation, DOL updated its Veteran's Employment and Training Service USERRA Operations Manual to include an instruction for investigation cases that the DOL official update the USERRA database whenever the complainant agrees to an extension to process his or her complaint, even when that agreement comes after the deadline has been reached and the case has administratively closed. DOL also issued a Director's Memorandum to establish new procedures for the handling of USERRA referral cases. According to the memorandum, DOL investigators are expected to arrange for data entry into the USERRA database of all appropriate DOL referral actions, as well as any DOL referral deadline extensions.
Department of Labor 6. The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for the Veterans' Employment and Training Service to establish procedures to ensure that quarterly USERRA reports are submitted to Congress within 30 days of the end of each quarter, as required by VBIA 2008.
Closed - Implemented
In November 2013, the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) implemented new procedures, through a director's memorandum, intended to ensure timely submission of quarterly USERRA reports to Congress. Specifically, assigned investigators must input reportable actions, such as investigation closure dates into the VETS information management system with two business days. According to VETS, the reporting changes resulted timely submission of USERRA quarterly reports for the first three quarters of fiscal year 2014.
Department of Justice 7. The Attorney General should establish a system of internal controls for collecting, maintaining, processing, and checking reliability of data for the quarterly reports to Congress.
Closed - Implemented
In fiscal year 2015, the Department of Justice (1) established a system to verify that data are accurately entered into its USERRA database, including having multiple staff periodically review and update the information and comparing the data to data contained in another system; (2) began conducting weekly reviews of USERRA program data in conjunction with relevant documentation; and (3) designated a single individual responsible for ensuring the accuracy of USERRA program data. As a result we are closing this recommendation.
Department of Justice 8. The Attorney General should establish procedures to ensure that quarterly USERRA reports are submitted to Congress within 30 days of the end of each quarter as required by VBIA 2008.
Closed - Implemented
In July 2014, DOJ established a procedure that centralizes review and submission of its quarterly USERRA reports in its Office of Legislative Affairs. Since establishing this procedure, DOJ has submitted its USERRA quarterly reports within 30 days of the end of each quarter as required by VBIA 2008.

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