Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson wrote to Congress this week, asking that it begin work immediately to repeal cuts to the agency’s award and incentive spending. Congress cut VA’s performance bonus budget by about 20 percent next year to cover opioid-addiction treatment programs for veterans.
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.
The Veterans Affairs Department officially fired three more senior leaders at the Phoenix VA Health Care System, the hospital where reports of wait time manipulation first started two years ago. Two of the three VA executives can appeal their removals to the Merit Systems Protection Board.
One congressman and the Veterans Affairs Department’s number two both suggested the VA doesn’t need another policy or rule to help the agency turn around years of mismanagement and a “culture of fear” at some medical centers.
The Senate is still debating whether it should overhaul current programs at the Veterans Affairs Department that give veterans access to private health care or revise certain pieces of it. At the same time, the VA said it’s close on finalizing a new appeals process, but the committee is concerned the VA’s plan does little to address the current backlog of 450,000 unresolved claims.
There isn’t much more the Veterans Affairs Department can do, now that the Merit Systems Protection Board overturned punishments for two of four senior executives accused of misconduct. The VA handed out lighter punishments to the four VBA leaders, despite criticism from Congress.
Following an investigation by VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson, the agency is recommending a combination of reduced pay and suspension for four VA leaders involved in relocation “impropriety.”
The Office of Special Counsel said two reports from the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General are incomplete, because the IG didn’t address the issues whistleblowers raised about problems with wait times at two VA medical centers.
Department of Veterans Affairs’ Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson defended the progress made at the Veterans Crisis Line in the two years since an oversight report was published criticizing the center’s lack of staff training and use of voicemail by a third party backup center.
Two senior leaders at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center are under investigation for misconduct related to misuse of prescriptions and other medical care.