House Passes Landmark Accountability Legislation
Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the VA Accountability First Act of 2017 with bipartisan support:
“The VA Accountability First Act will provide Secretary Shulkin the tools he needs to swiftly discipline employees who fail in their mission to provide world-class health care and services to the men and women who served, and I’m proud this bill passed with bipartisan support. This legislation doesn’t just build back the trust of America’s veterans; it gives VA employees the trust to know that bad actors within the department will no longer have the power to taint their good name. I applaud my colleagues’ work today to put veterans first, and I look forward to continuing our progress in creating a culture of accountability at VA.”
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. President Obama’s former VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson testified at a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing on the Choice Program that it was too difficult to fire a substandard VA employee. In fact, President Obama himself said, “if you engage in an unethical practice, if you cover up a serious problem, you should be fired. Period. It shouldn’t be that difficult.”
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.