Chairman Roe Introduces Legislation to Bring Accountability to VA
Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) introduced the VA Accountability First Act of 2017. The bill would provide the VA Secretary increased flexibility to remove, demote, or suspend any VA employee, including Senior Executive Service employees, for poor performance or misconduct.
It would also provide improved protections for whistleblowers; would allow the Secretary to reduce an employee’s federal pension if they are convicted of a felony that influenced their job at VA; recoup a bonus provided to an employee who engaged in misconduct or poor performance prior to receiving the bonus; and would allow the Secretary to recoup any relocation expenses that were authorized for a VA employee only through the employee’s ill-gotten means, such as fraud waste or malfeasance.
“I’ve said time and time again that the vast majority of the employees at the VA are hardworking and have the best interests of our veterans at heart, but there are still too many bad apples within the department. Our veterans deserve better, and the VA employees who fulfill their duties deserve better,” said Roe. “I’m proud to have worked with President Trump and his administration on this legislation to bring long overdue accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
Background: A recent study completed by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that, on average, it takes six months to a year, to remove a permanent civil servant in the Federal Government, though it often takes longer. Just last year, former VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson testified at a hearing that it was too hard to fire bad employees at VA.
In the past several years, VA’s arcane civil service rules have hampered the department’s ability to dismiss an employee that engaged in an armed robbery; discipline a VA nurse that participated in a veteran’s surgery while intoxicated; and hold employees accountable for the continued failures to manage several major construction projects, including the new hospital in Aurora, Colorado, that is now several years and a billion dollars over budget.
Read more at veterans.house.gov/accountability.