In one of his most effective swamp drains since Donald Trump was inaugurated, the VA announced Friday that over 500 underperforming or misbehaving employees have been terminated since the new president took office.
Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs released last Friday showed that 525 employees had been removed from their positions since Jan. 20. Another 194 received suspensions of two weeks or longer and 27 received demotions.
The Daily Caller cited even higher numbers — 548 removed, 200 suspended and 33 demoted — although it was unclear what their source for that data was.
According to The Washington Post, the Adverse Action Report, current as of July 3, was the first posted under the watch of Secretary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin.
“Under this administration, VA is committed to becoming the most transparent organization in government. Together with the accountability bill the president signed into law recently, this additional step will continue to shine a light on the actions we’re taking to reform the culture at VA,” Shulkin said in a statement.
“Veterans and taxpayers have a right to know what we’re doing to hold our employees accountable and make our personnel actions transparent. Posting this information online for all to see, and updating it weekly, will do just that.”
The list doesn’t name the individuals fired, suspended or demoted for obvious privacy reasons. However, it does name the positions that they occupied.
Removing or replacing underperforming Veterans Administration staff has been a priority for the Trump administration; an executive order signed by the president back in April made it easier for the VA to remove and replace bad employees, according to The Hill.
In the statement, Shulkin also announced he was “requiring approval by a senior official of any monetary settlement with an employee over the amount of $5,000.”
“Taxpayers need to know that we will engage in good faith settlement negotiations, where required by third parties, but will look to settle with employees only when they clearly have been wronged or when settlement is otherwise in Veterans’ and taxpayers’ best interests, and not as a matter of ordinary business,” Shulkin said.
“We’re changing to a culture of accountability at VA, and this is an important step in that direction.”
While a lot changed in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, few agencies or bureaus have undergone quite as much of a culture change as the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Shulkin replaces Obama-era VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who was considered to be ineffectual against the bloat and “Waiting for Godot”-like process veterans faced trying to get appointments. McDonald often gave conflicting answers involving how many employees his agency had fired during his tenure and once compared wait times veterans faced in getting appointments to the lines at Disneyland.
“The days to an appointment is really not what we should be measuring. What we should be measuring is the veterans’ satisfaction,” McDonald said in May of 2016, according to NBC News. “When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? What’s important? What’s important is: What’s your satisfaction with the experience?”
Look at McDonald said, and then look at Shulkin’s statement. Which one would you rather have running the VA? That’s what I thought.
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