This bill look to improve accountability at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) by allowing the VA to dismiss employees — including executive service employees — for misconduct or poor performance, while ensuring that whistleblowers can’t be fired in retaliation for reporting misconduct. It also would streamline the VA’s authority to rescind an employee’s bonus or relocation reimbursement, or allow reduction to their retirement pension if they’re convicted of a felony related to their work performance.
Senior executive service employees at the VA could be suspended, involuntarily reassigned, demoted, or removed for misconduct or performance following the completion of a VA-internal grievance process that must be completed within 21 days. Non-senior executive service employees could be removed, demoted, or suspended for more than 14 days pending a Merit Systems Protection Board appeal that would have to be completed within 180 days and would be subject to review by a federal circuit court.
The bill would also establish an Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection for employees to expose major problems without fear of retaliation. The VA would be required to train supervisors on the rights of whistleblowers; address reports of a hostile work environment; manage, motivate, and reward employees; and manage employees performing at an unaceptable level. Additionally, the VA would be required to provide reports to Congress on employee morale and the types of administrative action taken against employees and their effectiveness in disciplining employees.
The VA secretary would be authorized to directly appoint individuals to the positions of Medical Center Director and Director of Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) if they have demonstrated ability in the medical profession, healthcare administration, or healthcare fiscal management.