Depressing/funny you mention that about veterans because another friend who is a hiring manager at one of the agencies in Maryland said that it used to work the way Sterling said--they would find the person they liked/wanted to hire, then create or find a job for them. Now, however, he said that they are only allowed to hire veterans--so the old way doesn't even work anymore.
I totally agree about the weird bias/rules in the DC area--you'd think of anyplace it would be easiest to get into the Gov't here, where all the agencies are. But even with a dad who's worked for FDA for over 40 years, several other personal connections and multiple attempts on my own I STILL can't even get an interview!
But that's why I'm glad GovLoop exists--because I know it's only a matter of time until smart, motivated Fed employees figure out a way to get past these crazy hiring practices! The only way it can change is from the inside out.