Walorski Votes to Give VA Secretary New Accountability Tools to Change Culture

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Walorski Votes to Give VA Secretary New Accountability Tools to Change Culture

Bipartisan VA Reform Bill Makes It Easier to Fire Employees for Misconduct, Hire Qualified Leaders

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today voted for bipartisan legislation to bring a culture of accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by giving the VA secretary new tools to punish wrongdoing, protect whistleblowers, and fill critical leadership positions. The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act (S. 1094), passed the House by a vote of 368 to 55 and now heads to the president’s desk.

“This bipartisan bill will give the VA secretary important new tools to create a culture of accountability and ensure employees in VA facilities across the country put veterans first,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “The VA has an obligation to restore its core mission of caring for veterans, and we are giving them the tools necessary to reach that goal. This is a key step toward fixing the VA, but we still have work to do. I will be keeping up the pressure to make sure the VA follows through so all our veterans get the timely, quality care they earned.”

BACKGROUND

The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 will:

  • Establish a streamlined process for firing, demoting, or suspending VA employees for misconduct or poor performance while protecting their due process rights.
  • Expand protections for whistleblowers and prohibit the VA from using the expedited removal process for an employee with an open whistleblower case with the Office of Special Counsel.
  • Allow the VA secretary to recoup bonuses paid after an employee engaged in misconduct or poor performance; reduce the federal pension of an employee convicted of a felony that influenced their work at the VA; and recoup relocation expenses authorized for a VA employee due to fraud, waste, or malfeasance.
  • Authorize the VA secretary to fill the positions of medical center director and director of Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) by directly appointing individuals with a demonstrated ability in medical care or health care administration.

The House also recently passed the VA Scheduling Accountability Act (H.R. 467), legislation introduced by Congresswoman Walorski to require VA facilities to follow all scheduling rules. The legislation, which passed unanimously, would codify into law the annual requirement for each VA medical facility director to certify compliance with VA scheduling practices and would withhold bonuses from facility directors who fail to do so.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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