Lawmakers said they still couldn’t recommend the Department of Veterans Affairs’ accountability office as a safe space for whistleblowers, despite VA’s assertions that the organization is slowly improving.
A scathing review by VA’s inspector general found the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection failed to meet the missions Congress gave it, and may have actually put whistleblowers in danger.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is developing new training and policies for both employees and investigators within the agency’s Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.
Whistleblowers at the Department of Veterans Affairs said retaliation is still prevalent within the agency, two years after Congress codified a new office designed to protect them.
After more than one year after the Veterans Affairs Department stood up its new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection. senior executives still make up a small fraction of disciplinary actions.
According to the Veterans Affairs Department’s new reports detailing all major disciplinary actions for its workers, VA is on track to fire fewer people in 2017 than it has during the past six fiscal years. Federal employment experts say the new adverse action reports lack some significant details about VA’s efforts to improve accountability and transparency.
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.