Senator John McCain (R-AZ) sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald this week demanding information on why two disciplinary cases against senior executives at the VA have gone unresolved for a year and a half.
In a statement, McCain said:
“I continue to be extremely disappointed by the VA’s refusal to hold senior executives accountable for manipulating veterans’ wait-times in order to get bigger bonuses. By allowing these individuals to return to work, the VA has clearly demonstrated that these cases will drag on even longer. Just last week, a senior VA official admitted that he provided inaccurate and incomplete answers under oath multiple times to me during a Senate Veterans Affairs field hearing on these issues. Secretary McDonald is singularly responsible for the VA’s refusal to take action and its failure to expeditiously hold personnel responsible for the gross mismanagement and neglect of our veterans at the Phoenix VA and VA hospitals around the country.”
A copy of McCain’s letter is below.
January 13, 2016
The Honorable Robert McDonald
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue
Washington, DC 20420
Dear Secretary McDonald,
I write regarding recent news that two senior Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials accused of mismanagement and misconduct at the Phoenix VA Health Care System are returning to work at the VA. While they will allegedly be working at the regional headquarters office instead of at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center, I am disturbed that the VA has allowed these important cases to languish for more than a year and a half without resolution. I do not understand why these two cases have been allowed to be delayed for this long under your leadership. Please provide my office with a detailed explanation of these delays and timely and accurate update on the status of all current or former Phoenix VA Health Care System officials currently suspended or on paid leave awaiting an administrative decision or other personnel action.
Also, I continue to be disappointed in testimony you and your representatives have made on Capitol Hill regarding the VA’s inability to terminate or reprimand officials responsible for the deaths of veterans. During the recent Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on health care and accountability at the Phoenix VA Health Care System, senior VA officials repeatedly gave inaccurate testimony to my questions on why no actions have been taken against these officials. Inasmuch as there is still no explanation for these delays, the fact that the VA has subsequently corrected this testimony is hardly reassuring to veterans interested in accountability. Further, the return of these two officials to work elsewhere in the VA pending their investigation implies that there are no actions expected against these individuals in the near future.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this request.
United States Senator