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House Votes to Help Bring Much Needed Accountability to VA

May 21, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Following House passage of H.R. 4031, the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act, Chairman Jeff Miller released the below statement:

“The House has voted to take an important first step toward ending the culture of complacency that is jeopardizing patient safety within the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system. VA’s widespread and systemic lack of accountability is exacerbating all of its most pressing problems, including the department’s stubborn disability benefits backlog and a mounting toll of preventable deaths – including 23 recent fatalities due to delays in care – at VA medical centers across the country. While the vast majority of the department’s more than 300,000 employees and executives are dedicated and hard-working, VA’s well-documented reluctance to ensure its leaders are held accountable for negligence and mismanagement is tarnishing the reputation of the organization and may actually be encouraging more veteran suffering instead of preventing it. With all the problems VA hospitals and regional offices have recently had and new issues continually arising, we need to give the VA Secretary the authority he needs to fix things. That’s what my bill would do, and I applaud my colleagues in the House for supporting it. Now the Senate is faced with a stark choice: stand with veterans who rely on VA health care or stand with poorly performing bureaucrats entrenched in a dysfunctional personnel system. For the sake of our veterans, I hope the Senate chooses wisely.  – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs  

About the VA Management Accountability Act

The bill was developed in response to reams of evidence supporting a widespread lack of accountability in the wake of the department’s stubborn disability benefits backlog and a mounting toll of preventable veteran deaths – including 23 recent fatalities due to delays in care – at VA medical centers across the country. More than a dozen instances of this trend are documented on the VA Accountability Watch portion of the HVAC website. In each instance, VA senior executives who presided over mismanagement or negligence were more likely to receive a bonus or glowing performance review than any sort of punishment.

Despite the fact that multiple VA Inspector General reports have linked many VA patient care problems to widespread mismanagement and GAO findings that VA bonus pay has no clear link to performance, VA officials have consistently defended their celebration of executives who presided over poor performance.

Because of VA’s failure to address these problems, Chairman Miller wrote to President Obama in May 2013 asking for the president’s personal involvement in addressing VA’s management, oversight and accountability issues. Months later, Chairman Miller received a response from VA Secretary Shinseki – not President Obama – that failed to mention any specific actions the department has taken to hold its executives accountable for mismanagement.