Trump cre­ates of­fice at the VA to purge sub­par staffers

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY DAVE BOYER

Pres­i­dent Trump is ex­pected to is­sue an ex­ec­u­tive or­der Thurs­day cre­at­ing an of­fice within the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs to take charge of dis­ci­plin­ing or fir­ing in­com­pe­tent em­ploy­ees and pro­tect­ing whistle­blow­ers.

Mr. Trump will visit the VA head­quar­ters near the White House to cre­ate the Of­fice of Ac­count­abil­ity and Whistle­blower Protection, which will be aimed at help­ing VA Sec­re­tary David J. Shulkin to dis­ci­pline or ter­mi­nate VA man­agers or em­ploy­ees who fail to carry out their du­ties, a White House of­fi­cial con­firmed.

The em­bat­tled agency was crit­i­cized re­peat­edly dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion for fail­ing to dis­ci­pline em­ploy­ees en­gaged in wrong­do­ing. Whistle­blow­ers in the VA also have faced re­tal­i­a­tion in what they say is a pat­tern to si­lence crit­ics of the agency’s op­er­a­tions.

Concerned Vet­er­ans for Amer­ica ap­plauded the an­nounce­ment, but the group said the ef­fort needs to be backed up with leg­is­la­tion that will help the new of­fice carry out its goals.

“Pres­i­dent Trump put vet­er­ans at the top of his pri­or­ity list in his first 100 days, and we’re con­fi­dent he will con­tinue to do ev­ery­thing in his power to take care of them,” said CVA Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Mark Lu­cas. “This new ex­ec­u­tive or­der should be a wake-up call to Congress that the VA is con­tin­u­ing to fail be­cause of em­ployee neg­li­gence and mis­con­duct.”

The House has passed the VA Ac­count­abil­ity First Act of 2017, which would give the agency more au­thor­ity to dis­ci­pline em­ploy­ees. But a sim­i­lar mea­sure faces opposition, mainly from Democrats in the Se­nate.

Mr. Lu­cas said Mr. Shulkin’s “hands will be tied un­til Congress passes strong ac­count­abil­ity leg­is­la­tion, like the VA Ac­count­abil­ity First Act, to let him get these bad VA em­ploy­ees out quickly. The ball is in the Se­nate’s court.”

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