President to sign bill enabling VA to fire employees for misconduct or poor performance

Dr. Dunn: New Law “Implements Real Accountability at VA”

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Neal Dunn (FL-02) today applauded the passage of the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017. This legislation will streamline the arduous process to remove, demote or suspend any VA employee for poor performance or misconduct. It will also ensure that VA whistleblowers are protected from retaliation.

“The VA has failed many of our veterans over the last several years. Today, we took a bold step towards reversing those failures,” said Dr. Dunn. “With President Trump’s signature, Secretary Shulkin will have the tools he needs to remove bad employees more quickly. This will allow for the substantive changes necessary so that the VA can live up to the sacrifices of those it serves.”

Over the last few years numerous examples of mismanagement and misconduct have emerged at the VA. Medical personnel were found to have been intoxicated while on duty. A VA employee was arrested for armed robbery. At least 40 veterans on a secret list died while waiting for a medical appointment in Phoenix. Disability claims backlogs were covered up and large construction projects grossly mismanaged. And yet civil service rules prevented the VA from terminating employees for misconduct or poor performance.

“Our accountability processes,” VA Secretary David Shulkin recently said, “are clearly broken.”

Under current law, it takes a minimum of 51 days to remove, suspend, or demote an employee at the VA, resulting in a backlog of 1,500 pending disciplinary actions. This legislation will cut that time to 15 days and withhold employee pay during appeal periods. The bill also allows the Secretary to reduce an employee’s pension if convicted of a felony and claw back bonuses if warranted.

“This legislation implements real accountability at the VA — accountability to the men and women who have bravely served this country,” added Dr. Dunn.

Dr. Dunn is a cosponsor of the House version of the legislation, the VA Accountability First Act of 2017.