GAO: VA needs to better manage employee misconduct data
- By Sherkiya Wedgeworth
- Jul 19, 2018
The Veterans Affairs Department needs to improve their systems used to address employee misconduct and prevent retaliation, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.
VA maintains 12 information systems that are used to report and manage employee misconduct, but not all of the systems collect pertinent information related to disciplinary actions, such as the offense or date of occurrence.
“Without collecting reliable misconduct and disciplinary action data on all cases department-wide, VA’s reporting and decision making on misconduct are impaired,” the report states.
GAO estimates that approximately 3,600 of files they reviewed did not contain required documentation that employees were adequately informed of their rights during adjudication procedures—such as their entitlement to be represented by an attorney.
“The absence of files and associated documentation suggests that individuals may not have always received fair and reasonable due process as allegations of misconduct were adjudicated. Nevertheless, VA’s Office of Human Resource Management does not regularly assess the extent to which files and documentation are retained consistently with applicable requirements.“
Furthermore, GAO found that one in 10 VA employees who brought issues before the Office of Special Counsel were discipline that same year, compared to one out of 100 VA employees overall. Many cases where disciplined occurred were rank-and-file employees, which indicates that senior level workers often go unpunished.
GAO made 16 recommendations to VA, including the development and implementation of a guidance to collect complete and reliable misconduct and disciplinary-action data; direct the Office of Human Resource Management to routinely assess the extent to which misconduct-related files and documents are retained consistently with applicable requirements; and direct applicable facility and program offices to adhere to VA’s policies regarding misconduct adjudication documentation.