WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today applauded the signing of the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act into law. This spring, Sen. Moran joined U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) to introduce this legislation, which passed the Senate and House of Representatives this month. Sen. Moran released the following statement after the bill signing:
“Since the disturbing reports of veterans being neglected and mistreated across the country and in Kansas, I have been committed to developing legislation that gives the VA authorities to hold bad actors accountable while protecting veterans and VA whistleblowers who are trying to do what is in the best interest of our nation’s heroes. I am pleased the President signed this bipartisan legislation that I spearheaded to ensure the VA supports hardworking VA employees who care deeply about our veterans, and rids the VA of those few bad actors who fail to perform their duties in service to veterans.
“Many Kansans are familiar with the alarming case at the Leavenworth VA where a VA employee who stands accused of abusing the veterans he was supposed to serve and is able to collect benefits after voluntarily retiring from the VA. We must make certain this kind of injustice never happens again, which is why I added a provision in this bill with strong consequences to VA employees and their benefits when they are convicted of a felony against veterans or related to their position at the VA. This law is a step forward for our veterans and one of many changes the VA must take if they are going to earn back the trust of veterans and provide them with the care they have earned and deserve.”
Background on the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act:
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 bill is widely supported by key veterans stakeholders including the VA and U.S. House of Representatives Veterans Affairs’ 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 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.
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