I do not need to tell a veteran about accountability. Our armed forces would not be what it is if its members were not held accountable to one another. You are to put 100% trust in the man or woman that stands by your side as you go into battle. Likewise, they are to put their trust in you. If you are not accountable for your actions and they cannot trust you, then you must shape up or ship out.
After putting your life on the line for your country, I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to come home to a VA that may not be held up to the same standards. Congress is advocating a bill called the VA Management Accountability Act that would give the VA secretary broader authority to dismiss senior executives. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said:
the principle here is simple: when you’re not getting the job done, you got to go. At the VA it’s been quite the opposite. For all the incompetence we’ve seen and all the lives that have been lost, the evidence shows there have been no accountability, only half-measures and slaps on the wrist.
Conservatives in Congress are supporting the measure, along with a variety of veterans’ advocacy groups, who agree that top department leadership needs to do more to weed out bad actors. Those against it, namely those within the VA, say it will scare away top talent, and undermine rules designed to protect federal employees. Additionally, naysayers note that 3,000 employees were fired last year alone and six senior executives were removed in the last two years, which counters the contention that the VA lacks accountability.
Yet, a report from NBC4 in Washington said that a high-level VA financial manager was hired for a $100k+ job in Georgia. This is not necessarily a big deal except a few months ago the person resigned from a similar position in Mississippi because of a work-related drunk-driving accident that killed another VA worker. Just last month a VA inspector general report criticized VA managers for protecting and promoting a Tennessee claims worker who compiled $31,000 in unauthorized travel bills and ran sex chats on a government laptop during work hours.
The VA accountability bill is presently pending in the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Supporters are hopeful that the legislation will proceed to the House for a vote. While signs presently point toward success in the House, similar public support has yet to be made by leaders in the Senate.