House Passes VA Accountability Act
(Washington, DC) – Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement after the House passed S. 1094, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, which makes it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to remove, demote, or suspend poorly performing VA employees, while still providing protections for due process rights. Additionally, S. 1094 codifies into law President Trump’s Executive Order establishing the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.
LaMalfa said: “The VA’s arcane civil service rules mean it can take up to a year to fire an underperforming employee, even those that are found to have participated in severe misconduct. Our veterans deserve a VA that is accountable – and can hold its employees accountable. Even former VA Secretary Sloan Gibson admitted last year that it is too difficult for the agency to fire bad employees. This bill ensures that a few bad employees won’t unfairly diminish the reputation of the many hardworking people at the department. I am happy the House voted to send this common sense legislation to the President’s desk so that we can start to see real reforms at the VA.”
Recently, the VA’s complex bureaucracy has hampered the department’s ability to dismiss an employee that participated in an armed robbery, discipline a nurse for assisting with a surgery while intoxicated, and hold employees accountable for failures in managing several major construction projects.
S. 1094 provides the VA Secretary increased discretion to:
- Remove, demote, or suspend any VA employees for performance or misconduct.
- Provide protections for whistleblowers.
- Reduce an employee’s federal pension if convicted of a felony that influenced their job at the VA.
The House passed similar legislation in March, H.R. 1259, and the Senate passed S. 1094 as a modified version earlier this month. The bill will now be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.