The House passed a bill that would change the way agencies discipline and remove federal employees and members of the Senior Executive Service. One provision would put all SES members under the same, expedited disciplinary process that senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department had until the Justice Department challenged its constitutionality.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald says Congress needs to support the agency through reform legislation and full funding if lawmakers want to see the transformation so many of them are calling for.
VA Secretary Bob McDonald said his department is different enough from other federal agencies that a separate personnel system is appropriate for VA senior executives. McDonald also said the department is working on new performance standards to measure veterans’ satisfaction with VA medical facilities and the time it takes to receive an appointment.
At nearly 400 pages, the Veterans First Act, which the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee introduced last week, covers everything from veterans homelessness to more flexible work hours for VA doctors and nurses. But VA’s senior executives are still the main target of the legislation.
With roughly nine months until Inauguration Day, VA leadership is trying to implement a major transformation to the way it delivers health care and interacts with veterans and its own employees. But the department needs a plan and a new governance structure in place to ensure that whatever progress is made now endures beyond Jan. 20, 2017.
Negotiations between the House and Senate VA committees over a new veterans omnibus have stalled, as the Veterans Affairs Department releases more details in its plan to change accountability procedures for its senior executives.
Accountability in the Senior Executive Service will be at the center of congressional discussions on a new omnibus legislative package for the Veterans Affairs Department. Senate VA Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said he wants the VA and the committee to finish its work on the legislation by April 1.
The Senate is considering a series of new bills that would alter the Veterans Affairs Department’s current Choice program, which lets veterans find a private care provider rather than a VA doctor. VA leaders and Congress both say the department’s current program is not working.
More than half of current and former senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department oppose the VA’s proposal to reclassify some SES members under Title 38, according to the preliminary results of a recent survey from the Senior Executives Association.
Top officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs will meet this week with leaders from several leading veterans’ service organizations, seeking common ground on a legislative proposal that would overhaul the appeals process for veterans’ compensation claims.