Trying to Fire Bad VA Employees
The Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t typically air its dirty laundry in public, but a recent press release included the headline “MSPB forces VA to take back fired official” — just when we thought they were able to unload bad employees.
In April 2017, the director of a VA medical center was demoted. The center kept running out of critical supplies because it had no inventory system, and the surgical supplies they did have were frequently kept in dirty storage areas. The VA Office of the Inspector General report used the phrase “the highest level of chaos.” In three years there had been over 190 reports of compromised patient safety. Multiple serious surgeries had to be canceled due to lack of equipment. In short, the place was a mess. The VA demoted the medical director within hours.
In June, President Donald Trump signed the VA Accountability Act, which speeds the process of getting rid of rotten employees.
Enter the VAOIG, which found another reason to fire the guy: As part of yet another investigation of this employee, it discovered he had been sending VA emails to his personal accounts as well as to his wife, emails that contained sensitive personnel info as far back as 2012. He refused to give her email address, claiming spousal privilege (which didn’t stop the VAOIG from finding it, of course). The guy was fired.
One day later, the Merit Systems Protection Board issued a stay order: The VA couldn’t fire the guy until the MSPB waded through his claim of a wrongful termination. The former director is back at work, on the payroll, but in a role that keeps him away from patient care. The Office of Special Counsel will assess the information in light of the act the president signed in June.