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Roe Statement on President Signing VA Accountability Bill into Law

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Today, Chairman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) released the following statement after President Trump signed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act into law:

“In the three years since committee oversight revealed that veterans at VA were dying while waiting for care, we have heard far too many instances of employees who don’t live up to the standards expected of those who serve America’s veterans but cannot be fired for wrongdoing. That stops today.

“This law will give Secretary Shulkin the tools he needs, and has repeatedly asked for, to hold bad actors at VA accountable. Instilling a culture of accountability at VA is the first step to bringing wholesale reform to the department, and I’m proud of the bipartisan work we put in to get this bill to President Trump’s desk. I thank President Trump and Secretary Shulkin for their unwavering commitment to our nation’s heroes, and it is an honor to stand with them on this historic day.”    

Background:

The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 will:

  • Create a new streamlined and efficient process to remove, demote or suspend (for longer than 14 days) any VA employee for poor performance or misconduct with a concrete shortened timeline, while still protecting employees’ due process rights, and would provide them with the right to appeal the action.
  • Provide expanded protections for whistleblowers and would specifically bar VA from using this removal authority if the employee has an open whistleblower complaint/case with the Office of Special Counsel.
  • Provide the Secretary with the authority to reduce an employee’s federal pension if they are convicted of a felony that influenced their job at VA; recoup a bonus provided to an employee who engaged in misconduct or poor performance prior to receiving the bonus; and allow the Secretary to recoup any relocation expenses that were authorized for a VA employee only through the employee’s ill-gotten means, such as fraud waste or malfeasance.
  • Authorize the Secretary to directly appoint individuals to the positions of Medical Center Director and Director of Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) if they have a demonstrated ability in the medical profession, health care administration or health care fiscal management. This will make it easier to fill these critical positions quickly.

The House and Senate passed this legislation on June 13, 2017 and June 6, 2017, respectively. More information on the bill can be found here.

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