House passes bill to ease firing of VA execs

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."

Reader comments

Tue, May 27, 2014 Bucky

Its the conservative way limit FTEs, funding then bash the Agency for nonperformance.

Fri, May 23, 2014 FED-UP Montrose, NY

I find it amusing how finally the problem of unaccountability and government run amuck has been brought to light. What's amusing is that congress's answer to this is to pass a law, that'll fix it. Get those guys in the VA, that'll show 'em. The VA system is broken, but the bigger picture is that this is systemic throughout the federal government. The whole federal system from hiring to promotions to accountability to retirement is a scam. It is very deep rooted, but if it's the VA's turn to be shaken up I wouldn't mind if they started here in NY.

Fri, May 23, 2014

Wake up Congress. You are holding hearings on the morale of federal workers. Guess who causes the low morale... you do. OMB, OPM the Administration as well as Agency "leadership." It should be made easy to fire all of government.

Fri, May 23, 2014

This solves nothing as even as a GS they are still worthless and should no longer be working and be fired. If it were a GS employee they would be fired! This is another bandaid fix!

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