VA expands transparency, accountability efforts


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VA becomes first agency to post information on adverse employee actions, requires senior official sign-off on all settlement actions above $5,000

Today U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin announced that the VA is taking a further step on transparency and accountability as a follow-on to the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act signed by the President less than two weeks ago.

Beginning today, the department is making public a list of adverse employee actions taken since January 20.  This information is posted at http://www.va.gov/accountability and will be updated weekly.

Secretary Shulkin pointed to the move as another step in long-sought transparency and accountability actions at VA, and noted that the VA is the first federal agency to make such data public.  “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,” said Shulkin.

“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,” he added.

For privacy reasons, the adverse action list will not include employee names, but will give information on the position, VA region or administration, and type of adverse or disciplinary action that has been taken.

The list includes terminations, demotions and suspensions over 14 days since the new administration came into office on January 20. Additional categories of accountability actions will be included in upcoming releases.

In addition to posting the adverse action information, Secretary Shulkin announced that he is requiring approval by a senior official of any monetary settlement with an employee over the amount of $5,000.  Any settlement above this amount will require the personal approval of the under secretary, assistant secretary or equivalent senior-level official within the organization in which the dispute occurs.

“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.  We’re changing to a culture of accountability at VA, and this is an important step in that direction,” said Shulkin.

 

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Comments

  1. Bruce Ferreira    

    Explaine the reduction of benifits and compensations to disabled vets please.

    1. Gary Ovick    

      Dear David J. Shulkin, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs,
      Thank you for installing a process for employee accountability at the VA.
      Unfortunately, I have not seen anything about basic process performance for which the employees are accountable.
      As an example … after waiting 3 hours beyond my schedule appointment time at the Minneapolis VA, Eye Clinic, I ask to see the Clinic Supervisor.
      At which time I was lead to a nice office and introduced to the Clinic Supervisor (name not important). After explaining my 3 hour wait time and receiving a less than knowledgeable explanation of why the patient demand vs resource difference existed, I asked a fundamental management question. Do you monitor your key processes with “Key Performance Indicators” such as Patient Wait Times? I was astounded to hear “NO”.
      You can’t hold employees accountable if you don’t measure the processes for which they are responsible, or even know how good or in this case, how bad you are performing. As a retired customer support executive of a $30B corporation, I can tell you that the most critical KPI is Customer Response Time. I suggest that you put your efforts into publishing KPIs verses “Adverse Employee Actions”
      Thank you for listening from a 70% disabled VA “Customer”.

    2. James J. Mangini    

      The real problem with the VA is your middle managers who protect their territory as well protecting each other. I am a retired active duty senior NCO who now works for the VA. Here are two comments made to me by “supervisors”

      “we want you to be successful but not to successful”
      “they will never let you be a success again. You have to much imagination and you are to much of a threat”

      This is why the VA will never change because real change means mid-management has to be challenged and internally they will never allow that!

      Good luck but you will fail because the system is broke beyond repair!

    3. Robert Branscome    

      I do not believe most of what is being put out about how the VA is doing great things. For instance I am trying to get outside dental and when the dentist gave me a date they called me 3 hours before I was to show and canceled because they could not get their money for work they had already done for veterans. The dentist I am now to see states that he been trying to get approval for work on some veterans sense February 2017 and this is July 2017. This is not very good care as I can see.

      1. Patrick Ewing    

        I was approved for dental care choice a month ago. My local dentist said that I needed a slightly different course of care. The VA approved it after numerous phone calls. Two of the root canals have been completed and now have been filled in but I still need to get them capped and another root canal done. Now the VA Choice Dental Care program is being stopped and my dentist has not been paid. I was told this morning to get my records and make an appointment at the VA clinic for dental care.

    4. Brent Boughn    

      I haven’t seen a medical professional,( MD, DO, DDS, PA, RNP) in over 20 months and can’t get one at my local CBOC. I tried to get Choice but can’t get that either. The VAMC is 72 miles from my home, but the clinic is within 40 miles. However, they haven’t and aren’t accepting new patients because they don’t have the physical room or the staff to up their number of patients seen.

      If the clinic can’t and won’t see new patients, then I would think that the 40-mile thing would not apply, because I CAN’T GET AN APPOINTMENT. So it’s 72 miles to the next VA Medical Center/Clinics.

      So I signed up with Humana because they were providing service for a Primary Care Medical Professional as long as I had Medicare Parts A & B as well as VA Benefits, all of which I have. With this program, I was supposed to be able to get my prescriptions from the VA. Well, the VA decided that THEY HAD to SEE the patient to decide if the medications were appropriate. Most physicans and others aren’t licensed in this state, but my private physican is. And I can’t get an appointment in the first place anyway. CATCH 22?? It looks like it to me, but the VA can’t have it both ways.

      Any suggestions?

      Semper Fi

      “Doc” Brent LVN, RN, REMT/A-P, ATC, PA
      HM2/USN/USMC/FMF

  2. Crotalus    

    The VA staff that need to be held most accountable are the Disruptive Behavior Committee members. Veterans have no “due process”. They are flagged for purely retaliatory reasons, punished with destroyed health care services, not allowed access to the Patient Advocate, nor any other VA staff other than VA clinical assigned to them, and for their life time, written up as violent criminals, and advertised to all VA staff, and non-VA health care staff as violent criminals, thus destroying mental health care, no matter where they try to go. This of course leads to chronic suicidal behavior, which the DBC criminalizes.

    1. Cindy Pagan    

      OH!!!! Sooo true !!!! The VA did that to me !! The patient advocate refused to give me a supervisors name. When I said “you don’t want me to call do you”. I got silence. I told her I was going over her head anyway and said thanks for nothing. Sooooo Frustrating !!!! I contacted my senator and they have agreed to look into!!! I pray at least two heads roll. Doctor and patient advocate!!

      1. Dennis Gaubatz    

        The retaliation at the North texas VA is the same. If you calmly stand up for yourself and follow up, they don’t give you appointments or drop you from special clinics. If you change primary care doctors they next one is forewarned that you are a malcontent. Im 69% service connected and after fighting for decent healthcare I have given up. THEY WON. Hell, the wheelchair entrance door button was broken for a year with no repair at Bonham. “Thanks for your service,”

  3. Victor R Sellers    

    Good!
    Let’s start by cleaning up the bullsh!t corrupt department heads in St. Louis that is full of lowlife sneaks and cheats that gave the VA the disgusting reputation it has earned then move on to the Kansas City, Mo facility. I have a list of C & P examiners that blame the conditions vets have on syphillis or other STDs without and documentation in any record anywhere. It’s time to drain the Missouri facilities of the corruption that has cost hundreds of thousands of veterans to do without while the superiors wallow in their ilgotten wealth. It’s sickening how the law dies not apply to VA employees, so contact me for a list of examiners to be fired, if you can get them off of break. 2 hour lunches, coming in an hour late, always gone by noon on Fridays. Screw Kansas City.

  4. Victor R Sellers    

    The lies and deception to the veterans has to stop. Their benefits are withheld until they die, the same way their medical care is withheld. The suicides are largely due to incompetent and corrupt lying medical examiners. These corrupt employees are there for themselves and couldn’t care less about the veterans they examine, and there is no concern for what their misleading information does to the veteran or their survivors. The VA is the major cause for the suicides, by ignoring or burying the truth in the waste baskets because there has never been any accountability for anything these facilities do, and the VSOs are as corrupt. They are in bed together it appears and are anxious to take care of each other while depriving veterans, especially those denied that were medivaced out of Vietnam with permanent damage documented. These corrupt officials are the blame for the despicable reputation of the government and are the swamp that needs dried up and destroyed. American veterans deserve better.

  5. R.L. Mansfield    

    I am not happy at all with the VA office in Baltimore. I really hope this is the beginning of correcting the system. I have been waiting since 2013 for payment of money from a rating increase that was withheld until CRDP eligibility was verified with DFAS. In 2013 the Baltimore Office received the necessary confirmation. The problem is that I had been receiving CRDP prior to the increase so I have no idea why it had to be verified in the first place.

    1. Sherry BOBBITT    

      Oh, you can’t even get them for the spouse once the veteran has died. My husband died 2/8/16 and I have been at odds with the VA Admin since 4/16 and it is still going on. I keep having to appeal every denial. My husband told me once, “I will have to die before you can get help going up against the VA.” Well, I will keep on trying, even if it means a trip to Washington, DC to plead my case.

  6. Brian D Keller    

    The VA was wonderfully supportive of my father post his battlefield injuries 1-1-1945 in Belgium.
    He never complained but always found the needed care from the VA. Persistent patience is how he described getting his care.
    It was 65 years of prosthetic limb care, stump socks, nylon liners and more.
    The only condolence we received from the newspaper obituary came from his VA Primary Care MD. An absolutely sincere and caring physician.
    Dad’s friends & colleagues knew him well but only the US Veterans Administration answered every medical care he required.
    Thank you, VA of the US Armed Forces.

    1. Larry Behrens    

      Thank you, Brian. As a veteran who has received exemplary care from the VA for 40 years – including from the oft-maligned Phoenix VA Hospital -it’s refreshing to find someone who takes the time to point out that (many/most/almost all) of we veterans receive excellent care from the VA.

  7. Michael    

    My experience, with the V.A., is that it’s the same as when I was in the Army. “Hurry up, and wait” I’ve taken paperwork to my primary care team, twice, for a referral to get Physical Therapy. First time, they lost it. This time, I’ve waited over 10 days now and will go in, today, to see if I can rattle some chains.

    Another issue I have is how claims are handled and it seems they automatically deny your claim for disability benefits, then, only after you appeal, they seem to address your claim. Of course, don’t be surprised if it’s rejected again.

    But, there are some good programs for us. We have to remember that.

    Welcome Home!

  8. Jose Rosadi    

    Its ok to have an positive reaction of leaders in the VA.. I am a Veteran that has strugle in getting help from my DAV Office localy by phone but gets all the time an answerring service and no response is a Negative Action that affects us.. Their is not a positive Phone setup to help phasilitate Veterans help on cases of veterans or scheduling appoinments.. In my case I have to go visite the local DAV office just to make an appointment… Why cant a simple appointment be accomplished by phone?? Veterans Deserve a better Responce by Phone than just a message diverting Veterans to send an E-mail that never gets answerd…. Veterans Deserve a Properly Staff answering services.. As a Veteran I take this moment for my brothers Veterans we deserve Better form American..!!

  9. Jose Rosadi    

    Veterans Deserve Better DAV and Veterans Goverment integration answering Phone Services..

    1. PATRICIA HOLBERT    

      Yes, it would definitely be good to be aware of actions taking place in a specific VA facility by name.

  10. Anthony Ward Sr    

    How about at least showing where these employees worked some form of code to show what VAMC took action against them.

  11. S.A.Stutson    

    Its great that something is being done. Every operation have a bad egg or eggs. But in general I think VA employees care for the veteran thst walk though the door. But once you get to the door that says eligibility . That’s when everything changes it like you’re going through boot camp again. They are not helpful they treat you like “You want to use the VA! Ha Ha! First thing that they say “You Make to Much Money!” I understand that there are people that take advantage of the system. All I want to do is get my hearing and exposure to radiation service connected. I feel like my service to this country means nothing to the VA. The one thing I can say is I get more respect from my Brother’s & Sisters who served. Everyday people that don’t even know me thank me for my service! So VA it’s time to step up, not just getting the employee’s taken care of, but that the door for every Veteran War time and Peace time. No matter how much they make! Are Welcomed!!

  12. Michael J Sanchez    

    Posting disciplinary actions will not improve timeliness or quality of care. This is another useless effort that only ‘appears’ to help VA while accomplishing nothing. Moreover, we don’t have enough nurses and other ancillary staff (we’re over 600 short-staffed at my facility) such that surgeries are postponed weekly, yet here is VA adding another layer of bureaucracy, hiring more staff to collect and post disciplinary actions on a website, and these Employees–like the SES and most managers and supervisors–never see a Veteran in their careers.
    Better to address the chronic and critical nationwide staffing shortage (Dr. Shulkin is quoted as stating that VA is short over 49,000 Employees) so that VA will be a better place not only to work but also will be providing timely and quality care because it has sufficient, safe staffing levels at each facility. Until VA is safely staffed, everything else is just window dressing.

  13. Jessie M. Garcia    

    If any of these comments are read by VA please look into my file. (redacted)out of S.A, TX. I’ve been waiting 11 years now. I go to work sick because I don’t give up on my family. If I could get some relief I would consider retiring. But as of now I have to deal with all my ailments to support my family. My contact information is updated on ebenefits so there’s no reason for not being contacted

    1. Gene Sordillo    

      Hang in there Jessie, it took me over 40 years to get the VA to even look at my disabilities even though I had received a discharge discharge for medical conditions caused by injuries received in VN.

  14. Joe Hardin    

    For those of us veterans that have been wronged by certain VA employees, it would be better to include which VA facility instead of just the VISN plus the job title of the employee removed or reprimanded since their names are not published.

  15. Mark O'Neill    

    And only one senior medical officer was removed. Well now some may think this is progress but its not. When we have senior executives and medical staff held for incompetent behavior, then I’ll believe in this “transparency”

  16. Randall Franklin Horne    

    I have no idea where all the people with complaints are being seen or are trying to be seen.
    I do know that if you are having that much of a problem then somehow try to get to the Harrisonburg, Virginia local VA clinic.
    You will not be treated better and with more concern than at this facility.
    I use this facility for my Primary Care and only use outside Dr.’s and facilities if it is something minor that they cannot handle, instead of driving the 100 miles one way to Martinsburg, WVa VA Hospital.
    A lot of things that I had to go to the Wva VA hospital for in the past, they now do in the Hburg Clinic.
    They have the greatest personnel, Doctors and Nurses, that show a real concern and desire to care for the veteran.
    So far I have no problems with the VA that I have heard on the news and read about, MAYBE I am just one of the lucky ones.

  17. Robert Gabris    

    Can You please explain what the VISN;2 etc. number means

    Adverse Actions Report July 3, 2017
    VHA VISN: 2
    Nursing Assistant
    Removal
    05/26/2017
    VHA VISN: 2
    Food Service Worker
    Removal
    05/26/2017
    VHA VISN: 2
    Medical Support Assistant
    Removal
    05/13/2017
    VHA VISN: 2
    Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist
    Suspension > 14 Days
    02/28/2017
    VHA VISN: 2
    Maintenance Worker
    Suspension > 14 Days
    03/26/2017
    VHA VISN: 2

    1. Megan Moloney    

      Mr. Gabris, VISN 2 is the acronym for the Veterans Integrated Service Networks for the New York/New Jersey region. You can find a list of all the VISNs at https://www.va.gov/directory/guide/division.asp?dnum=1

  18. Glennon Taylor    

    The care I received in kernersville n.c and Salisbury n.c has been great only complaint have to wait until October 2017 for scheduled surgery

  19. Marcelino Rodriguez    

    I go to the Viera VA office in Melbourne, FL where I had the best eye exam I ever had. Primary Care is not good at all. My PCP seems to be checking the boxes and does cut and paste from previous exams without listening to me about issues that happened to me since last visit. The St Petersburgh Regional Office must be the worst for compensation issues. My appeals all have gone beyond the average time limits by far. It seem that this Region’s slogan is DELAY, DENY UNTIL THY DIE.

  20. David Kelly    

    I can relate to so many of the above comments, delay, deny until they die seems to be the bottom line. However, on a positive note, the Dorn Medical in Columbia SC now has at least one Doctor who cares. Dr. Thurmond (sp?) in the cardiology department. So now I’ve said one good thing to offset the hundreds of negative, including trying to actively kill me. Had I not read the drug interactions…I thought the Doctor was supposed to know these before prescribing.

  21. Jim "Zak" Szakmary    

    I was told that when I was healthy enough my educational benefits would resume. Once I became healthy enough the VA told me to “get lost,” your benefits have expired. I’m 70 years old, getting my MA; however, still waiting for those educational benefits I was promised. I’ve been paying my own way sine 2009 – “F” the VA and their BS promises Both the Dem & Rep congressmen have been worthless….

  22. Reginald Thomas    

    Transparency and accountability is needed for the administrative handling of claims and appeals also. Mr. David J. Shulkin, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, please provide a control list of all claims and appeals on the VA’s docket and a weekly update of those reviewed, hearing held, and decision made. It is mind bugling that a hearing can be delayed for years then finally held with all the facts determined and then the decision is withheld for years. What is not bugling is the fact the VA knows that during this time some of these veterans will die; thus, the fox gets the egg and chicken for his/her pay raise, retirement, vacation, etc.

  23. Robert L Heath    

    I have issues from almost 50 years ago, (in basic training) it has been made real clear to me, THE VA DON’T GIVE A DAM

  24. Jce    

    Tel# 7027919063….this is the telephone# of the PROSTHETICS AND SENSORY AID SERVICE AT LAS VEGAS VAMC located at 6900 North Pecos Rd, North Las Vegas, NV 89086. They sent me a letter requiring me to report to their area for foot measurement for issuing a pair of diabetic shoes to me. However, they already measured my shoe size last May 16, 2017. So I tried calling that number listed : 702 791 9063. and I quit after I dialed that number more than 10X the the entire day. Please, anyone,..just dial that number and you will know how frustrated I became. And with all due respect, Secretary SHULKIN, please call that number and prove me wrong for writing here my frustration against the VA. THANK YOU, Mr SHULKIN. I am ready to say the sane sentiment I wrote here in front of anyone who cares about us, the veterans. ( a disabled Vietnam vet).

  25. Dawn N Riggs    

    And why single out VA employees? What about IRS? They held my refund for a year. What about TSA?

    My VA is awesome. They’ve never screwed me like IRS. Seems misguided and inappropriate.

  26. Julonda Ketron    

    VERY IMPORTANT!!!!

    Please pass this on. It’s your TAX DOLLARS being spent. Contact your representatives and put a stop to this today!

    You may wonder why this is important. I have included a photo on maintenance workers at the Oklahoma City VA. They go to the 7th floor 45 minutes before they are to clock out from work. They set there until their supervisor comes to tell them to clock out. They can be seen there every day they are on the clock.

    Why is important to everyone who pays taxes? The amount of wages they fraudulently receive will amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Should they be fired for falsifying their payroll time reports??

    This was brought to the attention to hospital administration. The response of the director of the hospital was “well they’re part of the union and we can’t get rid of them or do anything to correct this problem. So we just over look this problem.

    “This legislation is the antithesis of accountability because it would allow corrupt or incompetent managers to get away with firing anyone who challenges them,” Cox said in a statement. “Real accountability would strengthen, not weaken, protections for the rank-and-file employees who are subjected to mismanagement, abuse and political corruption.”

  27. rich bures    

    V.

    VA will never take care of people coming back from deployment – there should be at least 4 evaluation centers across the country that a veteran coming back off deployment would go to for 30 days – they will get a complete physical. mental health tests – interest tests – dental – eye and hearing tests – they will be interviewed for education benefits -they will be watched very closely during the 30 days for mental health problems. instead they are just thrown off the bus onto the streets. there seems to be no financial value to the greedy politician’s for a used soldier. war is very profitable to a politician.

  28. Samuel Davenport    

    I am a member of the DAV and we try to help Vets with their claims. Some have tried for years to get care for service connected problems and have to resort to legal help. It doesn’t seem reasonable. I have heard the VA health care system is run by Dr. Pill. Here, take these pills. Nothing changed? Try these these pills….. Now I hear congress is trying to reduce VA disability payments back to 60% if the vet worked and receives social security at a certain level. Trying to help balance the budget on the backs of the disabled veterans? This is indicative of the entire Govt. attitude towards disabled vets.

  29. Richard    

    More accountability for Veteran who are subject to non military leadership

  30. Anthony Ray Grant    

    I was approved for a auto mobile grant 463 days ago and I have not rec’d any status on my grant from the VA for the funding. I need the Van to get to my medical appointments. I am in a motorized scooter. 100% disabled receiving aid and attendance due to my disabilities.

  31. RALPH L HERBERT    

    I’m a only 30% rated and use the VA med care . I just turned 70 and I can’t imagine where I would be without VA care and medical facilities. I got into the system late about 17yrs ago and at first I felt like a welfare recipient, abused, misused and stepped on but once I settled in with a primary care doc then it has been a good experience. You definitely need to establish a repoire with a primary care and then work yourself up with just one doctor and if he doesn’t work then change to another..
    Without the VA care system I can’t imagine where I could get this care from. Yea, trying to get approved for disabilities, upgraded ratings and other decisions from the VA can be a nightmare but my main doc is no problem.
    So I stopped bitching about VA care and learned the system and hurried up and waited. I defy most of you gripers to try some other outside medical service and see if you don’t get f_ _ k_ _ sooner or later..And if you don’t think so them you should be using them or leave the VA system and go for it and see if it’ll work better for you. And we’re all veterans so don’t give us that shit about they owe it to me.

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