For the Veterans Affairs Department, low morale and difficulty attracting talent are two of the challenges keeping it on the Government Accountability Office’s high-risk list. Margot Conrad, director of education and outreach at the Partnership for Public Service, offers her take on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.
Gail Wilensky, a former federal health official and senior fellow at Project Hope, has been part of the oversight of reforms at the Veterans Affairs Department. She joins Federal Drive with Tom Temin with an update on reform.
Official time has been a hot topic for House lawmakers this week. A new bill would limit official time for all employees at the Veterans Affairs Department and would set special limits for doctors and other workers involved in direct patient care.
If the 114th Congress was about dissecting the Veterans Affairs Department’s challenges, then the 115th Congress will act quickly to solve them, leadership on the House Veterans Affairs Committee said.
Some advocates of the House Veterans Affairs Committee’s new employee accountability bill say it’s different enough from previous attempts to tackle this issue and should assuage past concerns. But others fear the legislation revives familiar worries.
A recent GAO investigation found that at a number of VHA facilities, lack of knowledge, skill and personnel in the human resources offices is hampering the administration in achieving its medical mission.
An extension and then redesign of the Veterans Choice Program, along with new employee accountability legislation, are top priorities for new Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. He said he’s working with Congress on new legislation to support those initiatives.
Both the Government Accountability Office and the department’s inspector general say leadership at the Veterans Affairs Department is committed to removing VA health care from GAO’s High-Risk List. But they’ve seen little concrete action beyond VA’s promises of commitment.
The Veterans Benefits Administration sees progress with the National Work Queue, the automatic workload system that assigns a veteran’s claim to the regional office that has the most capacity to immediately begin work. But Congress is concerned the NW Queue creates unnecessary confusion and can’t address the growing backlog of veterans claims.
A recent Government Accountability Office report on the Veterans Affairs Department and its employees’ use of official time is renewing a debate among lawmakers: Does official time have a place within agency operations, and how much time is too much?
Agencies are under obligation to keep track of official hours. But the Veterans Affairs Department is having trouble doing that.
The Government Accountability Office had some hard truths for the Veterans Affairs Department, which has failed to produce more modern, interoperable IT systems after years of failed pilots and heated congressional hearings. GAO says VA should drop its plans to modernize VistA and find a commercial option instead.
Congress changed retention rules for future DoD layoffs, downgrading veterans preference and putting performance ratings in first place. Sounds good? It depends, says Senior Correspondent Mike Causey.
David Shulkin, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Veterans Affairs Department, earned high praise from the Senate committee during his nomination hearing. Changing the department’s current Veterans Choice Program and crafting new accountability and disciplinary procedures for VA employees were common topics.