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House Sends VA Reform Bill To President’s Desk

Press Release
Jun 13, 2017

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives approved and sent to the President’s desk for his final signature, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017.
 
The bipartisan bill will increase accountability at the VA by allowing the Secretary to dismiss poorly-performing employees and those who engage in misconduct while strengthening protections for whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing.
 
“This is incredible news for veterans,” said Congressman Darrell Issa. “Step one for improving the experience at the VA is reforming its culture, but too often employees who aren’t living up to the standards we expect aren’t held accountable for their actions. This bill is an important measure that will help us crack down on bad employees who put veterans’ care at risk while protecting those who have the courage to speak up and cast light on wrongdoing. These are reforms we’ve been working to pass for years and I look forward to the President signing these long-overdue improvements."
 
Background:
 
From the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs: 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 poorly 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.
 
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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