The White House announced that week that President Obama would nominate the former chief executive of Proctor & Gamble to head the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The White House announced last week that President Obama would nominate the former chief executive of Proctor & Gamble to head the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Robert McDonald, the retired chairman, president and CEO of the consumer products company, is generally credited with successfully growing the firm during his tenure, and with establishing a top leadership development program within the company. According to a recent corporate bio, McDonald also currently serves on the board of directors of Xerox Corp. and U.S. Steel Corp. McDonald graduated from West Point in 1975, and served five years in the Army.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel applauded the selection.
"I welcome President Obama's nomination of Bob McDonald to serve as secretary of Veterans Affairs," Hagel said in a statement. "Bob has been one of America's premier corporate leaders and is a fellow Army veteran and a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. If confirmed by Congress, he will be well-equipped to lead the VA."
Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson, who said he has known McDonald for 40 years, also cheered the selection, and called the nomination "a very positive step."
"With his years of executive success and principled leadership philosophy, stressing caring for others and personal ethics—choosing 'the harder right instead of the easier wrong,' in words he often quotes from the West Point Cadet Prayer—he is an inspired and inspiring choice to lead VA through this period of restructuring and reform," Gibson said.
Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) last week said he planned to meet with McDonald to hear his views on reforming the VA.
“The VA needs significantly improved transparency and accountability and it needs an increased number of doctors, nurses and other medical staff so that all eligible veterans get high-quality health care in a timely manner," Sanders said in a June 29 statement after hearing of the impending nomination.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) praised the choice.
"Bob McDonald is a good man, a veteran, and a strong leader with decades of experience in the private sector," Boehner said in a statement. "With those traits, he's the kind of person who is capable of implementing the kind of dramatic systemic change that is badly needed and long overdue at the VA."
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), who chairs the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said McDonald would have would have to make a clean sweep of the department.
“If confirmed by the Senate, Robert McDonald will inherit a Department of Veterans Affairs under a specter of corruption that may very well surpass anything in the history of American government," Miller said in a statement. "In order to pave the way for serious and substantive reforms that will help VA to effectively deliver the care and benefits our veterans have earned, he’ll need to root out the culture of dishonesty and fraud that has taken hold within the department and is contributing to all of its most pressing challenges.
"Quite simply, those who created the VA scandal will need to be purged from the system," he said.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, when asked by a reporter if McDonald was chosen to "clean house" at the VA, played down that aspect of his nomination.
"Well, I think this is somebody who has a lot of experience and has enjoyed a lot of success in managing a large company," Earnest said. "And the VA is a large organization that is performing very important work. And there are some important changes that need to be made to ensure that that important work is actually getting done. And so having somebody that has experience in the military, has strong bipartisan support for taking the job, and has a proven track record of implementing changes in large organizations to great effect makes him the right choice for this task."