My dear friend and fellow blogger, Grumpy Elder, died trying to get put on oxygen for his COPD. He traveled to the VA several days a week for weeks, 50 miles each time, but they didn’t help him and he was scared. No person who served his or her country should be scared and without help. If I had known, I would have bought the oxygen tank myself but Grumpy liked to do things for himself.
Chronic Indifference at Veterans Affairs the Wall Street Journal article reads. There has been little progress since the devastating reports of manipulation of wait time reports, cover ups, and deaths. People are not fired, no matter how incompetent they are.
When Robert McDonald was appointed to head the agency, he said, “those employees that have violated the trust of the nation and of veterans must be, and will be, held accountable.”
The incompetent employees are still working and they are not being held accountable.
The VA’s most-serious problems are rooted in its leaders’ routine and pervasive refusal to seriously discipline those who have engaged in proven incompetence, corruption and malfeasance.
“Veterans still facing major medical delays at VA hospitals,” read an Oct. 20 CNN article; “VA execs demoted, but get to keep their jobs and fraud money,” reported a Nov. 23 Daily Caller piece. “VA’s own internal probe finds impunity of agency leaders at scandal-ridden hospital,” said a Dec. 16 Washington Post report.
McDonald can’t do the job. He does not have the authority to fire, demote, discipline because of the rules.
President Obama has issued a veto threat on, the House-passed VA Accountability Act (H.R. 1994). This legislation would give the VA secretary the authority to swiftly fire or demote any employee for poor performance or misconduct while protecting whistleblowers and limiting the agency’s ability to place misbehaving employees on paid leave.
THE UNION CONTRACT SUPERCEDES FEDERAL LAW, VETERANS CAN’T GET JOBS
The Daily Caller got hold of The 2011 Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) union contract and in it is a codicil mandating that every position be filled by the “best qualified” union candidates. Candidates from outside the union can only be considered if no union person is available. This completely leaves out veterans.
Federal law requires veterans be given hiring preference in the civil service. The union contract has been allowed to supersede federal laws and regulations.
The Master Agreement between the VA and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) states, “Prior to considering candidates from outside the bargaining unit, the department agrees to first consider internal candidates for selection … in all cases … first and full consideration shall be given to any best qualified candidates within the facility.”
It also freezes hiring for 60 days until all union members see the notice of a position and they will freeze qualifications as well. So, even if they are not qualified, they can be hired.
If the employee fails at their job, there is extensive remedial help, retraining and other nonsense provided. Demotion is an alternative used over firing and they have to be trained for that as well. The new position has to be within travel distance and they get the same salary as they had been receiving in the higher level position.
The due process is overly-protective and the basis for the firing or demotion only covers the previous year.
Veterans get preference points but that doesn’t do they any good if there is some union member out there who is “qualified.”
The Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) also allows vets to apply for jobs that are otherwise only open to current employees but this contract prevents them from applying for the good jobs at least.
NEW AUDIT SHOWS NOTHING HAS CHANGED
A new audit by the Inspector General found numerous reports showing the VA has mishandled disciplinary actions against administrators involved in scandals, a slow rollout of its $10 billion to provide care in the private sector through the Veterans Choice program and a nationwide problem involving long waits for medical care.
They have a serious money management problem and overestimated the amount needed for one program over another, leaving $1.9 billion unspent on medical care for veterans.
The managers selected from the “best” union workers are lacking.
A veterans advocacy group that has been pressing for a complete overhaul of the VA health system, including partial privatization, said Tuesday that the IG audit “shows the department is not truly invested in giving veterans more options.”
“This report makes clear that in addition to relying on faulty budget projections, the VA failed to provide oversight for the program, to the likely detriment of nearly 80,000 veterans,” Concerned Veterans for America press secretary John Cooper said.
Getting the best employees and giving veterans themselves an opportunity would help immeasurably.
These people get bonuses despite the terrible job they are doing and despite the fact that the bonuses encouraged corrupt employees to doctor wait time reports leading indirectly to the deaths of veterans.
BONUSES CONTINUE DESPITE PERFORMANCE
Why do these employees get bonuses simply for doing their jobs and for doing them badly in too many cases?
Congress also wants to give the VA the authority it needs to recover questionable bonuses (H.R. 280) and annuities on pensions of VA employees convicted of felonies committed on the job (H.R. 1994 and S. 290). The money these bills are intended to recover could go toward filling the nearly 41,000 open positions for doctors, nurses and other health care professionals at the VA, helping improve the quality and timeliness of care for veterans across the country. The VA has refused to support these bills, which enjoy strong bipartisan support.
ONLY A REPUBLICAN WILL DO SOMETHING
Only a Republican president will break this hold the VA’s tight knit union has over the handling of the VA. All they do is ask for more money, yet due to mismanagement, they left $1.9 billion unspent.