More than 500 officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have been terminated from their positions since Donald Trump became president in January, according to publicly shared data from the VA.
Last Friday, the VA became the first federal agency to publicly share data regarding “adverse employee actions”; including demotions, removals, and suspensions. Weekly updates will be posted at www.va.gov/accountability.
The above-mentioned measures will increase transparency at the VA, said VA Secretary David Shulkin via statement:
“Under this administration, VA is committed to becoming the most transparent organization in government. Together with the Accountability bill the president signed into law recently, this additional step will continue to shine a light on the actions we’re taking to reform the culture at VA.
Veterans and taxpayers have a right to know what we’re doing to hold our employees accountable and make our personnel actions transparent. Posting this information online for all to see, and updating it weekly, will do just that.”
All monetary settlements with a VA employee above $5,000 now require a senior official’s approval, added Shulkin:
“Taxpayers need to know that we will engage in good faith settlement negotiations, where required by third parties, but will look to settle with employees only when they clearly have been wronged or when settlement is otherwise in Veterans’ and taxpayers’ best interests, and not as a matter of ordinary business. We’re changing to a culture of accountability at VA, and this is an important step in that direction.”
In June, Congress passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, described by NPR as “making it easier for the VA to fire employees for misconduct while better protecting staffers who bring wrongdoing to light.”
For years we’ve been watching the VA ignore, abuse and mistreat our veterans. In some cases allowing them to die when still waiting for treatment. Meanwhile the VA employees changed numbers on reports to collect bonuses and hid files to cover up the huge number of veterans who weren’t getting treatment, so these terminations are long overdue.
Back in 2014, the CATO Institute reported that the VA had grown by 53% and there were over 341,ooo employees on record at the time. It’s reasonable to assume that it grew even more under O’s watch, so there are lots and lots more that need firing. If you take a look at the VA’s report, you’ll see that most of the ones fired are in more menial positions. There were a few supervisors and administrators fired, but they should have started with management positions, particularly those that were doctoring the reports. When management gets fired the guys under him straighten up.
Shulkin gets credit for cleaning house – more like a light dusting, because it’s just a small start. There’s lots more swamp draining to do.