Executive Order Signals Cultural Change at the VA

Apr 28, 2017 by AFP

Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order creating a new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The office is supposed to identify, discipline, and terminate federal bureaucrats who fail to carry out their basic duties of helping America’s veterans.

The VA has come under intense scrutiny over the years for its repeated failure to serve the nation’s 22 million veterans. Even the VA Secretary, David Shulkin,  has highlighted the case of a VA employee caught watching pornography while working with a patient who could not be legally fired from his job. Instead, the employee was put on paid administrative leave. This led Secretary Shulkin to call for strong accountability measures at the VA – the first time a VA Secretary has done so – and ask Congress for greater firing authority so administrators can begin cleaning up the agency’s toxic culture.

Creating an accountability office overseen by the VA Secretary is a step forward for any American wanting the VA to better serve veterans. The office sends a strong signal to the VA bureaucracy that new leadership is serious about creating a culture of discipline and accountability.

When asked by the media how he was going to pay for the office, Secretary Shulkin stated the details needed to be finalized, but there would be a “substantial commitment.” Hopefully the administration will release more specifics about the accountability office soon.

Past abuses committed by unaccountable VA employees, including stealing drugs, falsifying wait times, and failing to properly sterilize medical equipment, prove Congress needs to pass legislation giving the VA greater authority to fire employees found guilty of misconduct.

The House of Representatives has already pass the VA Accountability First Act of 2017. Now it’s the Senate’s turn. The act would reduce the amount of time VA administrators have to wait to deal with negligent employees. Push the Senate to do the right thing by contacting your Senator and urging them to support the VA Accountability First Act of 2017.