The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld an appeal from Sharon Helman, the former director of the beleaguered Veterans Affairs medical center in Phoenix, Arizona, who was fired in 2014. The court said a key provision that lets VA more quickly fire and discipline senior executives is unconstitutional. The Merit Systems Protection Board will review the original decision an administrative judge made regarding Helman’s removal.
Cabinet secretaries, many of whom are newcomers to government, say they’re impressed by the dedication and hard work they’ve seen from colleagues at the career levels of their agencies within the first 100 days of the Trump administration. They offered their congratulations to the 26 finalists of the Partnership for Public Service’s prestigious Service to America Medals.
The Veterans Affairs Department is preparing a “State of VA” report on the challenges facing the agency, Secretary David Shulkin told reporters Wednesday. The report comes as VA quickly begins to plot some of its efforts to comply with the President’s government reorganization efforts during the fiscal 2018 budget cycle. VA is one of few civilian agencies that may see a major funding boost next year, according to the President’s budget proposal.
Some members of Congress are encouraged by a new solution to overhaul the outdated and lengthy appeals process for veterans. Members of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee introduced new legislation Tuesday that would create three paths for veterans to move more quickly through the appeals process. VA has roughly 470,000 claims pending as of April 1.
The Trump administration’s first 100 days concludes with several policy initiatives and agreeing to a budget plan to avoid a government shutdown.
In the aftermath of the federal hiring freeze, the Veterans Affairs Department says hiring managers are free to fill most positions. But there are still thousands of exceptions requiring approval from senior VA officials.
The executive order establishes the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protections as a new entity within VA. The new office will identify barriers and duplicative processes and resources to quickly disciplining and firing VA employees for poor performance or misconduct.
President Trump issued an executive order for federal agencies to review their policies and procedures for buying American. He suspect loopholes in buy-American laws are too often used when the government buys. Agencies are to forward their legal and procedural reviews to Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross, who will in turn deliver a draft set of recommendations by the end of the year.
Employees who handle veterans benefits claims and the disability claims backlog, as well as some cybersecurity professionals, are among the Veterans Affairs Department’s additional hiring freeze exemptions. VA Secretary David Shulkin announced more exemptions in a March 13 memo to staff.
The Veterans Choice Act provides VA with the opportunity to redefine what its role will be in 10 years.