Olson Votes to Hold the VA Accountable
Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) today voted to bring increased accountability and transparency to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Olson co-sponsored and voted for H.R. 1994, the VA Accountability Act, which will grant the VA Secretary more authority to remove any VA employee based on poor performance or misconduct. The bill passed the House by a vote of 256 to 170.
â€œAs a Navy veteran, I know America has the sacred duty to care for the men and women who sacrifice so much in defense of our nation, and I intend to keep that promise,â€ Rep. Olson said. â€œLast yearâ€™s VA scandal broke that promise. Reports revealed that countless veterans suffered due to a lack of needed healthcare because VA employees manipulated appointment wait times. Congress passed legislation to improve access to quality care for veterans. Now a year later, the VA has not fired a single employee who was involved with the scandal. This bill is vital in order to ensure that our veterans receive the highest quality of care.â€
Key provisions of the legislation include:
- Expands the SES removal authority to all VA employees;
- Allows employees to have seven days, after VAâ€™s final decision, to appeal their removal or demotion to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), and an administrative judge from the MSPB would then have 45 days to complete an expedited appeal and render a final decision on the case. If the MSPB is not able to complete the appeal within 45 days, the Secretaryâ€™s decision would be final;
- Protects whistleblowers from retaliation by not allowing the Secretary to use this authority to fire employees who have filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), until their complaints are resolved and/or finalized;
- Sets up a new process, to be used in addition to any other process currently allowed by law, for employees to blow the whistle at VA, by allowing them to bring issues to light up through their chain of command, while also being protected from retaliation and removal;
- Extends the probationary period for all new VA employees from 12 months to 18 months;
- Limits paid administrative leave for any VA employee to only 14 days within a one year period;
- Allows the Secretary to recoup a portion of an employeeâ€™s retirement benefits if they are convicted of a felony related to their work performance; and
- Requires a study to be conducted on VA time and space spent on union activities.
Media Contact: Melissa Kelly