Miller Proposes Major VA Accountability Reforms
Bill Would Give VA Secretary Authority to Reduce Corrupt Execs’ Pensions
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today Chairman Miller introduced the Increasing VA Accountability to Veterans Act of 2015. The bill would give the Department of Veterans Affairs secretary more authority to hold corrupt executives accountable, limit the amount of time VA senior executive service (SES) employees can spend on paid administrative leave and reform certain aspects of the department’s performance appraisal system for its senior executives.
Specifically, the bill would:
- Increase accountability by allowing the VA secretary to reduce an SES employee’s retirement pension upon conviction of a crime that influenced their work performance by reducing the years of service creditable to the employee’s pension
- Reduce waste by limiting the amount of time VA senior executives could spend on paid administrative leave to 14 days unless the secretary can show good cause for an extension
- Help end VA’s sordid bonus culture by reforming VA’s SES performance appraisal system so only 30 percent of senior executives could receive top performance ratings and qualify for bonuses
- Require additional transparency regarding SES performance outcomes and require that all SES employees change jobs within the department at least once every five years
The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, which was signed into law Aug. 7, 2014, contained significant civil service reforms that gave the VA secretary complete authority to fire corrupt or incompetent senior executives. In remarks before signing the act, President Obama said, “If you engage in an unethical practice, if you cover up a serious problem, you should be fired. Period. It shouldn’t be that difficult.” Despite this fact, accountability remains extremely scarce at the department. In fact, in the wake of the biggest scandal in VA history, which centered on appointment wait time manipulation, not a single VA senior executive has been fired for wait time manipulation. Meanwhile, VA employees at the heart of the scandal have been placed on paid administrative leave for months on end.
After introducing the bill, Chairman Miller released the following statement:
“More than nine months after the VA scandal, Americans are asking ‘where is the accountability?’ Unfortunately, VA doesn’t have a good answer to this question. That’s why our focus remains on giving the VA secretary more tools to ensure corrupt and incompetent executives face serious consequences for mismanagement and malfeasance that harms veterans. Right now, the task at hand for VA leaders is replacing the department’s culture of complacency with a climate of accountability, and we are going to give them everything they need to do get the job done.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Read the text of the bill here.