House passes bill to ease firing of VA execs
- By FederalSoup Staff
- May 22, 2014
The House on May 21 passed a bill that would give Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki new authority to fire senior executives for poor performance.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act (H.R. 4031) , sponsored by Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), would allow the VA secretary to remove any person from the Senior Executive Service after determining that the individual's performance warranted removal, and either remove the person from federal service or transfer him or her to "a General Schedule position at any grade that the Secretary deems appropriate."
“The House has voted to take an important first step toward ending the culture of complacency that is jeopardizing patient safety within the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system," Miller said in a statement after the bill's passage. "VA’s widespread and systemic lack of accountability is exacerbating all of its most pressing problems, including the department’s stubborn disability benefits backlog and a mounting toll of preventable deaths—including 23 recent fatalities due to delays in care—at VA medical centers across the country."
Miller said the "vast majority" of VA employees and executives are "dedicated and hard-working," but that the department's "well-documented reluctance to ensure its leaders are held accountable for negligence and mismanagement is tarnishing the reputation of the organization..."
The Senior Executives Association released a statement in which it expressed "deep disappointment" in the House's passage of the measure, maintaining that rather than ensuring veterans get high quality care, the bill would drive well qualified applicants from seeking executive positions at the department.
"Veterans have fought on behalf of the founding tenets and freedoms that make America great and keep democracy strong," said SEA President Carol Bonosaro. "These ideals include due process, the assumption of innocence until proven guilty, and an impartial justice system. Congress should seek to curtail the very ideals that set America apart by passing an unconstitutional, guilty until proven innocent bill."
"Instead of wasting time on H.R. 4031," she said, "[Congress] should be moving quickly to deal with the systemic drivers of a growing VA population, lack of sufficient medical staff and resources, and the laws already in place to ensure employee accountability and performance."