January 24, 2018

Main » Trump signs bill aiming to hold VA employees accountable

Trump signs bill aiming to hold VA employees accountable

24 June 2017

The measure was prompted by a 2014 scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center, where some veterans died while waiting for care.

The Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act is created to bring accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs by expediting the firing process for poorly performing employees, and ensuring appropriate protections for whistleblowers.

"What happened was a national disgrace", Trump said, "and yet some of the employees involved in these scandals remained on the payrolls".

Under the new law, protections for whistleblowers will be expanded and the VA will be prevented from dismissing an employee who has an open complaint against the department.

"As you all know all too well, for many years the government failed to keep its promises to our veterans".

While holding private-sector employees accountable is common, many government employees - particularly those working at the Department of Veterans Affairs - have abused the system.

Trump says the law represents one of the biggest reforms to the VA in a generation or more. It received bipartisan support and was passed by the 368-55 vote in the House earlier in June. Shulkin, who served as an undersecretary in the VA in the Obama administration, supports the legislation Trump signed Friday. In addition, it authorizes the VA secretary to recoup any bonuses awarded to employees who have acted improperly. The Senate passed the bill by voice vote a week earlier.

Shulkin pushed for this kind of reform bill during his confirmation process and in the first months of his tenure, arguing that the department was "still in critical condition" and more accountability was needed to improve the treatment veterans receive. The Senate bill calls for a longer appeal process than the House version - 180 days versus 45 days. The law also shortens the review period for new hires and offers protections to employees who complain about wrongdoing within the agency.

Most Americans in the workplace understand if they do not live up to the standards set by their employer, there may be consequences. "It makes it just as easy to fire a good employee, an innocent employee, as it will be to fire a bad employee".

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, called the bill signing "a significant step to reform the VA with a renewed objective and ability to serve our veterans".

Trump signs bill aiming to hold VA employees accountable