Tuesday | June 6, 2017

Scott Supports Bill to Improve Accountability Procedures at the Department of Veterans Affairs

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) supported the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, which passed unanimously in the Senate. This bipartisan legislation that would reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by allowing the secretary to dismiss bad employees and ensure appropriate due process protections for whistleblowers.
"Our veterans deserve the absolute best care possible," said Scott. "Unfortunately, subpar management, long wait lines, and lack of accountability have plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs for years. An organization that was created to help our veterans has fallen short time and time again in providing the medical attention our service members have both earned and deserve. While many VA employees do an amazing job every day, the fact remains there are those who fall short, and we must ensure standards improve and excellent service becomes the new norm at our VA facilities. I remain committed to continuing to serve our veterans and service members whenever possible." The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act was introduced by Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jon Tester (D-MT) on May 11. The measure passed the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs by voice vote on Wednesday, May 24. The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act is widely supported by key veterans stakeholders including the VA and U.S. House VA committee leadership. It has also won the support of numerous veterans advocacy groups that represent millions of veterans in the United States and key government accountability groups. Background: The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act increases the VA's authority to remove employees at all levels of the department, shortens the removal process and ensures an individual removed from the VA is not kept on the VA's payroll while appealing that decision. It will also make it easier for the VA to remove poor performing senior executives and replace them with qualified candidates. Additionally, any appeals by senior VA executives would no longer be brought before the Merit Systems Protection Board, but instead would be handled directly by the VA secretary under an expedited timeline. The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act will establish in law the newly created Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection within the VA, which mirrors a proposal first introduced by Isakson in his Veterans First Act last Congress. The legislation also includes a number of other provisions to hold employees accountable, including: • Requires the VA to evaluate supervisors based on the protection of whistleblowers; • Incentivizes managers to address poor performance and misconduct among employees by requiring the VA secretary to include this as part of the annual performance plan; • Prohibits bonuses for employees who have been found guilty of wrongdoing; and • Prohibits relocation expenses to employees who abuse the system. A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here.
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