Chairman Miller Statement on VA’s Inability to Discipline Kimberly Graves
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today Chairman Miller released the below statement regarding a judge’s ruling that reversed VA’s attempt to discipline employee Kimberly Graves. A September 2015 VA Inspector General report found that Graves and fellow VA employee Diana Rubens had abused their authority, enabling them to rake in a total of more than $400,000 in taxpayer-funded relocation benefits.
“The outcome of this case is a slap in the face to the many dedicated VA employees who do the right thing on a daily basis. In a twist of tragic comedy, VA’s attempt to discipline Kimberly Graves was undone by its refusal to discipline other employees involved in this scandal. By now there should be no doubt whatsoever that our federal civil service system is in need of drastic reform. And as long as there is a system in place that requires a similar burden of proof to discipline federal employees as it does to send criminals to prison, these problems will only continue. Over the years, VA leaders have repeatedly insisted they have the tools they need to hold employees accountable. This case proves those assertions are false, and it’s well past time for VA and Obama administration officials to be honest with the American people about the government’s massive accountability problem. Time and again, Congress has tried to make it easier for VA to discipline poorly performing employees, yet incredibly the department and the administration have fought us at nearly every turn. Enough is enough. Every objective observer knows that the federal civil service system coddles and protects misbehaving employees instead of facilitating fair and efficient discipline. And until VA and Obama administration leaders acknowledge this problem and work with Congress to solve it, it will never be fixed. That’s why over the next few weeks, I intend to personally engage VA Sec. Bob McDonald in the hopes of obtaining his support and assistance in fixing this problem once and for all. For the sake of all the taxpayers and federal employees who are continually failed by this dysfunctional status quo, I hope he is willing to cooperate.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs