As one of its first acts in the new Congress, the House voted to require all reprimands and admonishments given to Veterans Affairs (VA) employees to remain permanently in their records for the duration of their employment.
The Ensuring VA Employee Accountability Act was introduced by Rep. Ryan Costello and would require the VA Secretary to retain a copy of any reprimands or admonishments for a VA employee for as long as the employee is employed by the VA. Under current law, an admonishment is only on a VA employee’s record for two years and a reprimand remains on record for three years.
Supporters of the bill say it will help to increase accountability and transparency at an agency that has had its share of recent problems.
“Part of the systemic problems with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs stem from the fact that current policy prevents the keeping of complete employee files and does not allow the at-fault employees to be tracked or held accountable,” said Congressman Costello. “It is critical to maintain a complete record of a poor performer in order to better understand an employee as long as they are with the Department.”
House VA Committee Chairman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) added, “The very first bills passed by the House in the 115th Congress are bipartisan bills to bring much-needed accountability to the VA, and that is not a coincidence. These commonsense reforms will help ensure veterans receive the quality health care they deserve while also holding VA employees who fail in their duty to care for veterans accountable. As I’ve said time and time again, I know the vast majority of VA employees get up and go to work every day with the sole intention of serving our veterans. It’s unfair to these hardworking men and women that the Department continually refuses to hold bad actors accountable.”
House Republicans have been offering various bills to reform the VA. Last summer, for example, the House took a second shot at passing legislation that would make it easier to fire VA employees. Despite passing the House, it failed to pass Congress and be signed into law.
A copy of the Ensuring VA Employee Accountability Act legislation is included below.