Washington, D.C. – In the wake of a new report detailing how very few people have been held accountable for last year’s scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today introduced the “VA Accountability Act of 2015,” which would give the VA secretary additional authorities to remove or demote any VA employee based on performance or misconduct.
This legislation would expand on the “Increasing VA Accountability to Veterans Act of 2015” Rubio co-sponsored in January by giving the VA secretary the authority to terminate any employees for performance-related issues, not just managers. It mirrors legislation filed in the U.S. House of Representatives by House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL).
“I was proud to lead the effort to give the VA secretary the authority to fire senior executives based on performance, but it’s clear additional authorities are needed to deal with the full scope of the problems at the VA,” said Rubio. “This new legislation will leave the VA secretary with no excuse but to hold those responsible for the dysfunction and incompetence plaguing our VA system accountable for their actions while protecting whistleblowers from retaliation. We must show our veterans the respect they have earned by removing any employees with terrible performance from the system our veterans rely on.”
The “Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act” (the Choice Act), which included legislation sponsored by Rubio that gave the VA secretary the authority to fire senior executives based on performance, was signed into law on Aug. 7, 2014. Despite an estimated 280,000 VA employees being involved in the appointment scheduling scandal that came to light last year, only three employees have actually been fired for their involvement.
Specifically, the “VA Accountability Act of 2015” would:
- Give the VA secretary the authority to remove any VA employee based on performance or misconduct;
- Require the VA secretary to notify Congress of any removals or demotions within 30 days;
- Protect whistleblowers from retaliation by creating an exemption to the 30 days dismissal rule for employees with a claim pending before the Office of Special Counsel until their claim is resolved;
- Require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study of VA time and space that is spent on labor union organization and activity;
- Require all probationary periods for new VA employees to last a minimum of 18 months, give the VA secretary authority to extend probationary periods as he or she sees fit, and require immediate supervisor to make an affirmative decision that they are qualified for the position going forward.
Click here to read the full text of the legislation.