House Votes to Improve the VA’s Hiring and Firing Standards
(Washington, DC) – Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement after the House passed H.R. 1259, the VA Accountability First Act and H.R. 1367, To Improve the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire and retain physicians and other employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and for other purposes. Together, the two bills increase the VA Secretary’s flexibility to remove, demote or suspend bad employees while improving their ability to recruit and retain high-quality health care providers.
LaMalfa said: “The vast majority of VA employees are hard-working and dedicated individuals, but sometimes a couple of bad apples can spoil the whole barrel. Currently, complex bureaucratic processes mean it can take up to a year to remove or discipline a VA employee for misconduct or subpar performance. As a result, the VA has recently had trouble firing one employee who participated in an armed robbery and another who participated in a veteran’s surgery while intoxicated. It is clear that VA leadership needs more authority to hold their employees accountable. Similarly, the agency must be able to replace bad employees with high-quality professionals. These bills provide much-needed reforms to the VA that allow them to more quickly address underperforming employees and more efficiently recruit and retain the best possible providers. This is commonsense legislation to improve the quality of care available and our veterans deserve nothing less.”
Just last year, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson testified at a hearing that it was too difficult to fire bad employees. H.R. 1259 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.
- Recoup a bonus provided to an employee who engaged in misconduct prior to receiving the bonus.
A 2016 Best Places to Work survey ranked the VA second to last for large agencies overall, second to last in effective leadership and last in pay. H.R. 1367 corrects deficiencies within the agency’s overly bureaucratic hiring process by establishing staffing, recruitment and retention programs to enable the VA to recruit and retain the best in the field. Additionally, this bill would create a recruiting database to make potential employees aware of positions at the VA.
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.