Tuesday, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, applauded the Senate’s unanimous passage of the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Jon Tester (D-MT) that would reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by allowing the secretary to dismiss bad employees and ensure appropriate due process protections for whistleblowers.
“This bipartisan legislation will give the VA the long-overdue authority to remove bad actors and put the people in place we need to give veterans the care they need and deserve,” said Senator Tillis. “While the majority of employees at the VA are hardworking individuals who are committed to providing the best healthcare possible for our veterans, it is unacceptable the VA has to comb through layers of red-tape to remove poor-performing employees, and it is my hope the legislation quickly becomes law so the VA has the flexibility it needs to have the right personnel in place.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act is widely supported by key veterans stakeholders including the VA and U.S. House VA committee leadership. It has also won the support of numerous veterans advocacy groups that represent millions of veterans in the United States and key government accountability groups. Read more about the legislation’s support here.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act increases the VA’s authority to remove employees at all levels of the department, shortens the removal process and ensures an individual removed from the VA is not kept on the VA’s payroll while appealing that decision. It will also make it easier for the VA to remove poor performing senior executives and replace them with qualified candidates. Additionally, any appeals by senior VA executives would no longer be brought before the Merit Systems Protection Board, but instead would be handled directly by the VA secretary under an expedited timeline.
The legislation will establish in law the newly created Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection within the VA and includes a number of other provisions to hold employees accountable, including:
Requires the VA to evaluate supervisors based on the protection of whistleblowers;
Incentivizes managers to address poor performance and misconduct among employees by requiring the VA secretary to include this as part of the annual performance plan.
Prohibits bonuses for employees who have been found guilty of wrongdoing.
Prohibits relocation expenses to employees who abuse the system.