U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) have introduced legislation that would take back bonuses paid to employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) who were involved in the manipulation of electronic waitlists.
The McCaskill-Ayotte legislation directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to require VA employees who received bonuses in 2011 or later to repay those bonuses if they contributed to a deliberate omission from an electronic wait list the names of veterans waiting for health care. The employee’s superiors are also required to pay back bonuses if they knew, or reasonably should have known, of their subordinates’ purposeful omission of the names of veterans from electronic waitlists. The bill requires the VA secretary to identify these VA employees through reports issued by the department’s Inspector General.
Speaking on the legislation, McCaskill said, “I’m pleased this bipartisan legislation will hold responsible any VA employee found to have cooked the books on wait times, and will help us quickly recover bonuses and raises paid to those fraudsters with taxpayer dollars. And I’ll continue holding the agency accountable and demanding VA leadership comply with all recommendations issued in the Inspector General’s interim report.”
“The use of secret waitlists by VA employees to hide actual wait times resulted in the delay or denial of veterans’ access to timely care,” said Ayotte. “It’s outrageous that employees who deliberately manipulated waitlists received bonus pay, and they must be held fully accountable for their misconduct – starting with repaying the funds they wrongly received.”
McCaskill and Ayotte introduced the “Stop Wasteful Federal Bonuses Act” earlier this year following an IRS Inspector General report revealing that $2.8 million was paid in bonuses between 2010 and 2012 to 2,800 IRS employees with conduct violations – including more than $1 million for over 1,100 employees who are delinquent on their taxes. That legislation would prohibit bonuses from being paid to federal workers who are not in good standing with their agency or the law.