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Miller Bill Would Enable Real Accountability for All VA Employees, Reform Appeals Process

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Yesterday, Chairman Jeff Miller introduced H.R. 5620, the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016. The bill would strengthen protections for whistleblowers and help fix the Department of Veterans Affairs’ biggest problem – its pervasive lack of accountability for misbehaving employees. Additionally, the bill would reform the department’s disability benefits appeals process – a top priority for VA leaders and many veterans service organizations. Specifically, the bill would:
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Yesterday, Chairman Jeff Miller introduced H.R. 5620, the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016. The bill would strengthen protections for whistleblowers and help fix the Department of Veterans Affairs’ biggest problem – its pervasive lack of accountability for misbehaving employees. Additionally, the bill would reform the department’s disability benefits appeals process – a top priority for VA leaders and many veterans service organizations. Specifically, the bill would:

  • Shorten the firing/demotion/appeals process for rank-and-file VA employees from more than a year on average to no more than 77 days
  • Remove entirely the Merit Systems Protection Board from the firing/demotion/appeals process for VA senior executives
  • Provide VA whistleblowers with a means to solve problems at the lowest level possible, while offering them protection from reprisals and mandating strict accountability for those who reprise against them
  • Give the VA secretary the authority to recoup bonuses and relocation expenses from misbehaving employees
  • Give the VA secretary the authority to reduce the pensions of senior executives convicted of felonies that influenced their job performance
  • Reform the department’s broken disability benefits appeals process

“The biggest obstacle standing in the way of VA reform is the department’s pervasive lack of accountability among employees at all levels. Until this problem is fixed once and for all, long-term efforts to reform VA are doomed to fail. For too long, union bosses, administration officials and their enablers have used every trick in the book to help VA bureaucrats who can’t or won’t do their jobs remain firmly entrenched in the agency’s bureaucracy. The VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016 gets rid of these loopholes, which have been unfairly forcing veterans and the many good VA workers to deal with deadwood employees for years. Union bosses and defenders of the broken status quo will oppose this bill, and that is exactly why it must become law.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Read the bill here.

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