Hoeven: Senate Passes Legislation to Improve Accountability at the Veterans Affairs Administration

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Senate passed bipartisan legislation he cosponsored to improve and reform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and provide the VA Secretary with the necessary tools to address poor performance and misconduct by VA employees. The legislation also establishes safeguards to protect whistleblowers.

“This bipartisan legislation will help to improve accountability at the VA and ensure that employees at all levels are doing their jobs and providing our veterans with the care they deserve,” said Hoeven. “This legislation is all about providing the VA Secretary with the authority necessary to ensure that VA employees are putting veterans first.”

            Specifically, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act: 

·        Authorizes the Secretary of VA to reprimand, suspend, demote or remove VA employees at any level

·        Prohibits bonuses for employees who have been found guilty of wrongdoing and prohibits relocation expenses to employees who abuse the system

·        Establishes in law the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection within the VA, a post created earlier this year by executive order

·        Shortens the appeal and review process

·        Lowers the burden of proof necessary for meaningful disciplinary action

·        Protects whistleblowers who have filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC)

The legislation, introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), is supported by the North Dakota VA Commissioner, American Legion, American Veterans (AMVETS), Concerned Veterans of America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of America, Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). 

This legislation continues Hoeven’s work to provide better care for the nation’s veterans. The senator has been working to provide veterans with timely, quality health care options closer to home. Earlier this month, Hoeven secured a commitment from VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin to work with him on his Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act, which would expand veterans’ access to long-term care services. Hoeven is also working to build on the success of the Veterans Care Coordination initiative at the Fargo VA which has decreased the wait time from an initial call to scheduling an appointment from 24 days a year ago to five or six days currently.