Congressman Chris Collins Supports Bill for Increased VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection
Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today supported legislation that allows the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) the ability to take disciplinary action against an underperforming employee that is not fulfilling their duties. This legislation comes as a result of numerous instances where VA’s arcane civil service rules have hampered the department’s ability to discipline or dismiss an underperforming employee.
“You hear stories of a VA nurse that participated in surgery while drunk, an employee who committed an armed robbery, a psychiatrist that was watching inappropriate videos on the job, and it is shocking that these individuals may still be on the job,” said Congressman Chris Collins. “I proudly supported this bill because I know there are committed and trustworthy employees at VA and these situations have cast a shadow on the important work they are doing to improve the lives of veterans. The Secretary of VA should have the power to make sure only the most qualified individuals are serving those who have served us, and this bill will provide the flexibility to do just that.”
The legislation voted on today creates a streamlined and efficient process to remove, demote, or suspend a VA employee for poor performance or misconduct, while still protecting their due process rights. Additionally, the bill provides expanded protections for whistleblowers, specifically barring the VA from removing an employee that has an open whistleblower compliant with the Office of Special Counsel.
“Whistleblowers have been key to revealing incompetence and wrongdoing at VA facilities around the nation. This legislation should encourage more individuals to come forward and report malpractice and mismanagement. We owe it to our nation’s veterans to make sure they are taken care of, and I am hopeful that measures like this will get VA back on track.”
The House passed H.R. 1259, VA Accountability First Act of 2017 on March 16, 2017. The Senate passed S. 1094, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 on June 6, 2017. The House today passed the Senate version of the bill and it will now head to the President.