For Immediate Release:

Washington D.C.- Congresswoman Liz Cheney (WY-AL) released the following statement today regarding the passage of S. 1094, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017.

“I’m very proud to have supported the VA Accountability Act, which passed the House this afternoon. Ensuring our veterans have the care and protection they deserve is a solemn obligation of our nation. As we’ve seen in far too many reports, some VA facilities and employees have failed to live up to the standards we expect and our veterans deserve. While the majority of VA employees are dedicated to their work and the veterans they serve, the VA lacks the tools needed to weed out the bad actors. Today’s bill gives the Secretary of Veterans Affairs more flexibility in removing, suspending, or disciplining poor performing employees. The bill also improves protections for whistleblowers so that problems at the VA can be identified and addressed. Our service members and veterans deserve the highest quality of care possible and I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress to strengthen and improve the VA.”

Background:

–  The House originally passed similar legislation, H.R. 1259, the VA Accountability First Act on 3/16/2017.

–  S. 1094 includes changes made during the Senate’s consideration of the bill.

–  The bill codifies the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection and requires the VA to develop criteria to promote protection of whistleblowers.

–  Requires the Assistant Secretary for Accountability and Whistleblower Protection to submit a report to Congress on the methods used to investigate employees and whether the methods are used to retaliate against whistleblowers.

– Increases the authority of the VA Secretary to discipline or remove VA employees and for poor performance or misconduct.

– Allows the VA Secretary to reduce a VA employee’s pension if they are convicted of a felony that influenced their job performance and recoup any bonus or award paid to any VA employee if the Secretary deems that the employee engaged in poor performance or misconduct prior to receiving a bonus and the bonus would not have been paid if their poor performance or misconduct was known at that time.

– Requires VA to measure and collect information on the outcomes of disciplinary actions carried out by VA during the 3-year period ending on the date of enactment and the effectiveness of such actions. Not later than December 31, 2017, VA would be required to submit to Congress a report on its disciplinary procedures and actions.

–  The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy that indicates Presidential plans to sign the bill.

Press Contact: Joe Jackson: joseph.jackson@mail.house.gov

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