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VSOs Say VA Lacks Accountability, Support Miller, Rubio Bills to Reform VA

Feb 13, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – Leaders of some of America’s top veterans service organizations are acknowledging the widespread lack of accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs and voicing their support for the VA Management Accountability Act of 2014 after Chairman Jeff Miller and Sen. Marco Rubio introduced versions of the bill in the House and Senate, respectively.

The bill was developed in response to reams of evidence indicating a widespread lack of accountability in the wake of the department’s stubborn disability benefits backlog and a mounting toll of at least 31 recent preventable veteran deaths at VA medical centers across the country. It would give VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and future VA secretaries complete authority to fire or demote VA Senior Executive Service or equivalent employees based on performance. In Fiscal Year 2012, there were 448 career SES employees working at VA. The group represents the bulk of VA’s senior leaders.

Read the latest statements of support for the VA Management Accountability Act of 2014 below.

“The American Legion is deeply concerned with the lack of accountability within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This legislation would provide tools to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to better manage Senior Executive Service employees, and hold them accountable when they fail to perform their duties in a manner that better serves the veterans entrusted to their care.” – Dan Dellinger, National Commander, The American Legion

“Under the current, antiquated and morbidly dysfunctional civil service system, it’s nearly impossible to dismiss or do more than slap the wrists of incompetent, ineffective and wasteful Senior Executive employees.  This situation is no doubt largely responsible for the ongoing backlog, as well as the problems of delayed benefits and inconsistent care experienced by many veterans. AMVETS believes that no matter what ideas and policies the VA Secretary wants to implement, without the ability to remove deadweight executives, his hands are tied.  Veterans are tired of platitudes and broken promises, the only way to break the cycle of ineptitude at VA and restore our veterans’ faith in the system is to eradicate problems at the root – the Senior Executive level.” – John H. Mitchell, Jr., National Commander, AMVETS

“The inexcusably high VA disability claims backlog left veterans wondering who was responsible for this mess and why no one was held accountable for such poor performance. By granting the Secretary the authority to fire senior department executives who fail to meet VA’s goals and expectations, this legislation will provide veterans with a sense that mismanagement and failure will no longer be tolerated within the highest levels of VA leadership.”– Paul Rieckhoff, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

 “America’s veterans deserve the best possible care and services when utilizing VA
facilities and processes. That’s what this reform legislation is intended to create—better
care and more efficient outcomes. CVA believes this legislation will empower the
Secretary of Veterans Affairs to bring long-overdue accountability to the SES, and in
doing so forge a culture of accountability—rather than more bureaucratic malaise.” – Pete Hegseth, CEO, Concerned Veterans for America

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Read the text of Chairman Miller’s bill here