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senate Bill S. 1094

Should it be Easier for the VA to Fire Underperforming Employees While Protecting Whistleblowers?

Argument in favor

If the VA is going to get its act together and give veterans a better level of care, it needs the ability to more easily fire or punish bad employees and protect whistleblowers that report misconduct.

Jim2423's Opinion
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06/07/2017
100% Yes, but don't stop with the VA. There is more dead weight within all government agencies, that many supervisors would love to get rid of. Between a lack of management support and (I hate to admit it) Union support, you put your job on the line trying to implement poor job performance or not complying with work procedures. I have been through this, I even had HR admit they lose good supervisors because of the inability to get rid of unsatisfactory employees, who know how to use the system.
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Cathleen's Opinion
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06/07/2017
It's amazing we need a law that allows us to hold people accountable for their job performance. Yes let's allow them to find capable people.
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Patricia 's Opinion
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06/12/2017
The notoriously corrupt VA director who was the first termination when Trump took office was just rehired by VA... His termination was the result of numerous allegations... stealing opioids for his own use and unlawfully harassing whistleblowers who reported his wrongdoing. How is this possible? The unions control the VA. It's time to take that power back.
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Argument opposed

There are a lot of problems with the VA that aren’t going to be fixed by firing bad employees and protecting whistleblowers from retaliation.

Rob's Opinion
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06/07/2017
It's easy to "underperform" when in reality, you're under staffed. Fix this and give our vets the help they need
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Frances's Opinion
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06/12/2017
My husband has volunteered at our VA hospital every day for 12 years. Underfunding means under staffing and that is the real cause for concern. The VA needs to have more money to staff its hospitals. Don't those who pu their lives on the line for us deserve the best?
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David's Opinion
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06/13/2017
Properly fund and staff the VA first before attempting to micromanage it
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What is Senate Bill S. 1094?

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.

Impact

Veterans receiving care from the VA; VA employees, supervisors, and whistleblowers; and Congress.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1094

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced this bill to give the VA greater authority to dismiss bad employees and also ensure that whistleblowers who report wrongdoing are protected from retaliation:

“To fully reform the VA and provide our nation’s veterans with the quality care they were promised and deserve, we must ensure the department can efficiently dismiss employees who are not able or willing to do their jobs. This legislation would improve on the law we enacted in 2014, and I’m grateful to Chairman Isakson and Ranking Member Tester for working with us to craft a bill that will protect whistleblowers and the many VA employees who are passionate about caring for our veterans, while also empowering the VA to hold bad employees accountable. We must make real changes that put the well-being of our servicemembers before the best interests of bureaucrats.”

This legislation passed the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee by voice vote and has the support of 31 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate — including 23 Republicans, seven Democrats, and one Independent. The bill has also received a bipartisan endorsement from the two leaders of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

 

Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Veterans Health / Public Domain)

AKA

Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017

Official Title

A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the accountability of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • EnactedJune 23rd, 2017
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The house Passed June 13th, 2017
    Roll Call Vote 368 Yea / 55 Nay
  • The senate Passed June 6th, 2017
    Passed by Voice Vote
      senate Committees
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    IntroducedMay 11th, 2017

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    100% Yes, but don't stop with the VA. There is more dead weight within all government agencies, that many supervisors would love to get rid of. Between a lack of management support and (I hate to admit it) Union support, you put your job on the line trying to implement poor job performance or not complying with work procedures. I have been through this, I even had HR admit they lose good supervisors because of the inability to get rid of unsatisfactory employees, who know how to use the system.
    Like (60)
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    It's easy to "underperform" when in reality, you're under staffed. Fix this and give our vets the help they need
    Like (251)
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    My husband has volunteered at our VA hospital every day for 12 years. Underfunding means under staffing and that is the real cause for concern. The VA needs to have more money to staff its hospitals. Don't those who pu their lives on the line for us deserve the best?
    Like (175)
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    Properly fund and staff the VA first before attempting to micromanage it
    Like (149)
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    The problem at the VA is the lack of proper funding, it's not the employees. This bill is a distraction and will likely make working for the VA less attractive. You don't improve conditions at the VA by forcing its employees to become fearful of losing their jobs.
    Like (90)
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    As a VA employee, it pains me to say this, but there is entirely too much negligence and incompetence among many of our staff. This by no means represents a majority of VA staff, but it is a large enough number that it has a significant adverse impact on the care we provide. Too often, I have been left wondering why some of my colleagues are still in the jobs that they are in. Any other job, in any other healthcare setting, they would have been dismissed long ago. This makes it very disheartening for those of us who care about our vets and the work we do. It also significantly impacts our own job performance and employee morale. While this will not solve many of the VA's problems, it will assist in correcting one significant problem.
    Like (83)
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    Fund the damned agency and stop killing veterans via willful negligence.
    Like (45)
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    It's amazing we need a law that allows us to hold people accountable for their job performance. Yes let's allow them to find capable people.
    Like (42)
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    The notoriously corrupt VA director who was the first termination when Trump took office was just rehired by VA... His termination was the result of numerous allegations... stealing opioids for his own use and unlawfully harassing whistleblowers who reported his wrongdoing. How is this possible? The unions control the VA. It's time to take that power back.
    Like (36)
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    I think the administration is using the people at the VA as scapegoats. When in reality it is not properly funded.
    Like (28)
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    Fuck trump
    Like (26)
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    Take care of our vets! If you perform poorly you shouldn't be employed in such an important role, and if you point out the problems LEGALLY you shouldn't be punished. Pass this immediately!
    Like (22)
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    IF EMPLOYEES ARE UNDER PERFORMING BECAUSE THEY ARE UNDER STAFFED THEN THE INDIVIDUALS IN THE ADMINISTRATION RESPONSIBLE FOR UNDERSTAFFING NEED TO BE FIRED !!!! ASAP !!!!
    Like (21)
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    All VA employees should be "at will" employees. The corruption in the VA has gone on far too long.
    Like (17)
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    Whistleblowers should be protected if they were truly right and justly in their approach. But anyone can still "under perform" and work the system to "over perform". Maybe enacting bills that create better systems for VA would help them as well as funding.
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    The VA needs staffing- much of the issues come from lack of staff being able to keep up with the need because of the GOP's budget cuts. Yes, negative employees should not continue, but we need to be able to retain good ones in competing with the private sector which has long been an issue
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    As a veteran under the care of the VA, I wholeheartedly support them being held accountable. My local clinic is awesome, and Poplar Bluff VA is phenomenal. But John Cochran in st Louis is horrible. Rude employees that only care about getting you in and out as fast as possible to make it look like they're treating a bunch of veterans. Drain the VA swamp!
    Like (9)
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    Fire Senator Rubio.
    Like (8)
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    Federal workers should be no different than any worker anywhere, when they are incapable, under performing or negligent they should be fired and lose all benefits. The end!!
    Like (7)
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    The VA needs to be able to fire those that are unable to meet performance expectations. In fact all federal jobs need to be subject to firing if the person does not meet the expectations of the job. This is a no brainer as far as I'm concerned. Under-performers need to be either moved down to a position they can do effectively of fired. This would do a great deal in eliminating problems and waste.
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