Magazine article American Banker

Hiring Abuse Debate Spurs Walkout by NCUA Chief

Magazine article American Banker

Hiring Abuse Debate Spurs Walkout by NCUA Chief

Article excerpt

A routine National Credit Union Administration board meeting became a nearly four-hour brawl last week.

The Sept. 17 meeting started with board member Yolanda T. Wheat demanding that the three-member body discuss a government report critical of the agency's hiring practices.

It culminated in Chairman Norman E. D'Amours' storming out of the room while his colleagues continued the meeting, refusing to heed his call for a recess.

The spectacle floored observers, including some credit union executives who had traveled from Oregon and Florida, and it reinforced the NCUA's reputation as a dysfunctional agency.

The report that sparked the furor came from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which said that the NCUA had intentionally manipulated government rules for competitive hiring so that preselected candidates got jobs as examiners.

The agency's auditors found that NCUA had hired 16 people to fill vacancies but assigned them to work in other cities. The agency then blamed budget cuts and restructuring as reasons that the posted vacancies remained unfilled, the report said.

In addition, according to the report, NCUA hired at least 40 white examiners under a program intended to promote minority hiring.

"The fact that documentation which served to obscure the improper hiring activities was prepared and maintained suggests that the activity was willful and performed with knowledge of its impropriety," the agency's report said.

As a result, the agency must approve all NCUA hirings, and it said veterans and downsized federal workers who were passed over unfairly for the NCUA jobs must get a second chance. …

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