Olson Acts to Bring Accountability to the VA
Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) today acted to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by giving the agency tools to address the pervasive mismanagement or misconduct by VA employees. Olson voted in support of H.R. 5620, the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act, which would strengthens whistleblower protections, reforms the Department’s disability benefits appeals process, and eliminate bonuses for high level VA staff for the next five years.
“Our government made a promise to our veterans to care for them when they return home from battle,” Rep. Olson said. “As former Navy pilot, I take seriously my duty to ensure that our veterans receive the care they deserve. That’s why I’m proud that the House acted today to ensure greater accountability within the VA. Good employees should be rewarded, but bad employees should not be able to take advantage of a broken bureaucracy that makes it hard to fire employees who fail to do their job. I urge the Senate to act quickly to give the VA the tools to truly advocate for our veterans.”
H.R. 5620 – VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act
Highlights of the bill include:
- To remove/fire or demote VA employees for performance or misconduct.
- To reduce a senior executive level employee’s pension if they were convicted of a felony that influenced their job performance.
- To recoup any bonus or award paid to any VA employee if the Secretary deems it appropriate to do so.
- To recoup relocation expenses paid to a VA employee if the Secretary determined that the employee committed an act of fraud, waste, or malfeasance.
- To remove/fire, demote, suspend, reprimand, or admonish an SES employee for misconduct or performance.
The legislation reforms the VA’s current appeal process to streamline the process and speed up determinations while providing employees a choice of three different tracks of appeals. Additionally, the legislation provides enhanced protections for whistleblowers, including additional methods to report complaints, enhanced whistleblower training, and requires reports to Congress on the status and disposition of whistleblower complaints. Finally the legislation eliminates all bonuses for senior executive employees for fiscal years 2017-2021.
Media Contact: Melissa Kelly