Jun 07 2017
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) praised unanimous U.S. Senate passage of the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, legislation to reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by allowing the VA secretary to remove bad actors with appropriate due process and protections for whistleblowers. Sen. Moran joined U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) in introducing this legislation last month.
“Despite great efforts to craft laws that ensure the VA is held accountable, too many veterans continue to experience mistreatment at the hands of bad actors among VA’s employees,” said Sen. Moran. “This legislation gives the VA secretary the tools he needs to remove those who fail to perform their duties to provide our veterans with the care they deserve while ensuring that whistleblowers are appropriately protected. This is one of many changes the VA must make if they are going to earn the trust of veterans who rely on them.”
The bill is widely supported by key veterans stakeholders including the VA and U.S. House VA committee leadership. It has also won the support of numerous advocacy groups that represent millions of veterans in the United States and key government accountability groups. Read more about the legislation’s support here.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act increases the VA’s authority to remove employees at all levels of the department, shortens the removal process and ensures an individual removed from the VA is not kept on the VA’s payroll while appealing that decision. It will also make it easier for the VA to remove poorly performing senior executives and replace them with qualified candidates. Additionally, any appeals by senior VA executives would no longer be brought before the Merit Systems Protection Board, but instead would be handled directly by the VA secretary under an expedited timeline.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act will establish in law the newly created Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection within the VA.
The legislation also includes a number of other provisions to hold employees accountable, including:
- Requiring the VA to evaluate supervisors based on the protection of whistleblowers;
- Incentivizing managers to address poor performance and misconduct among employees by requiring the VA secretary to include this as part of the annual performance plan;
- Prohibiting bonuses for employees who have been found guilty of wrongdoing; and
- Prohibiting relocation expenses to employees who abuse the system.
A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here.
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