I'm a non veteran civilian employee at the VA within Contracting. I've worked at the same office for an extensive amount of time and I've been very successful in my work assignments, education, certificates, appraisals, etc. from the start. It is very clear to my peers, direct management and management beyond that I grasp everything quickly and with a clear understanding. When it came time to be eligible to apply for an advancement opportunity within my office years ago I was referred and interviewed. The advancement is what i would consider to be low level for my area of NJ so it should be very attainable. However, many positions were filled and I was not selected the first time around. The unofficial feedback I received as to why was because a hiring freeze was on the horizon and many veterans applied. I was surprised and disappointed but as time went on and I interviewed multiple times over the years there were always an unofficial excuse and it became daunting. Often times the hired individuals possess less experience and knowledge after they are hired and it is evident. I've had to train selections that come in possessing less knowledge then myself, some aren't veterans but affiliates of someone in the hiring division of our office. The hiring division of our office reports directly to the selection authority and doesn't possess HR roles or titles. The HR office that instructs us is external but still VA. However, after much research it seems as though the HR office really can't enforce anything or have much authority involving our hiring office following the rules other then instructing us to put in a FOIA request. At this point it is my understanding that I have been eligible and a preferred candidate for the advanced position from the beginning but the selection authority doesn't want me to progress but since ultimately she possesses the authority to select whomever she wants I must apply elsewhere. I know they don't follow policy in the process in many ways but I'm also unsure of my rights and what exactly a FOIA request would grant me. My assumption is that a FOIA request would just upset them so much that they would retaliate. Looking for suggestions or advice as this is very new to me.