NTU urges all Representatives to vote “YES” on H.R. 1944, the “VA Accountability Act of 2015.” This legislation protects veterans and taxpayers by empowering the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to take necessary measures against employees who fail to meet the high standards of performance and conduct required to meet the mission of the VA. The bill also takes important steps toward improving whistleblower safeguards.
Despite the enactment, barely a year ago, of a massive VA reform bill, it has become clear that much more needs to change at the VA. Earlier scandals have snowballed into all new examples of what Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL) called “systemic malfeasance.” The news, which evolved under further scrutiny that first 60, then fourteen, then three, and finally only one person involved with manipulating patient wait times lost their job as a result of their actions paints a picture of a culture of negligence and waste that must be addressed in conjunction with other much-needed reforms. Without real consequences and accountability for wrongdoing, taxpayers will be unsurprised to hear news of further scandals and mismanagement in the near future.
The legislation also includes instructions for the Government Accountability Office to undertake a study of “official time,” union organizing activities conducted while on the clock.
Finally, and perhaps most critically, the bill incorporates elements of whistleblower protection legislation previously introduced separately (H.R. 571, the “VA Retaliation Prevention Act”). These provisions represent very good, if not final, progress toward shielding conscientious employees from on-the-job reprisals. Whistleblowers serve a vital role in exposing waste, fraud, and abuse – all serious problems the VA needs help in addressing from both inside and out in order to better serve our veterans.
Roll call votes on H.R. 1944 will be included in our annual Rating of Congress and a “Yes” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.
If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift at (703) 683-5700