Banks supports bill to hold VA employees more accountable in job

Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03) voted on June 13 in support of a bill to hold Department of Veterans Affairs employees accountable while simultaneously protecting whistle- blowers. The legislation passed the House 368 to 55 and now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.

“It’s time to make it easier for veterans to get the care they deserve,” Banks said. “We need to hold poorly performing VA employees accountable because mediocrity is unacceptable when it comes to caring for the men and women who have served our country. This bipartisan bill is an important step in the right direction.”

In the past several years, the VA’s civil service rules have hampered the department’s ability to:

• Dismiss an employee that engaged in an armed robbery.

• Discipline a VA nurse that participated in a veteran’s surgery while intoxicated.

• Hold employees accountable for continued failures to manage several major construction projects, including the new hospital in Aurora, CO, that is now several years and a billion dollars over budget.

On average, it takes six months to a year to remove a permanent civil servant in the federal government.
This legislation would allow the VA to use an expedited process to fire, demote or suspend poorly performing employees (previously, such an expedited process only applied to senior executive service employees); and protect whistleblowers from retaliation by prohibiting the VA secretary from using this process to discipline an employee who has filed a complaint with the VA Office of Special Counsel.