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Donnelly-Supported Bill to Hold Wrongdoers at VA Accountable Becomes Law

June 24, 2017

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Washington, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation that U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly helped pass recently in the Senate to hold wrongdoers at the Department of Veterans Affairs accountable for mistreatment of veterans was signed into law today.

The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act will make it easier for the VA to fire employees guilty of misconduct or wrongdoing, prohibits bonuses to employees guilty of wrongdoing, and protects whistleblowers who report wrongdoing.

Donnelly said, “This law will make needed changes at the VA, holding bad actors responsible, while protecting whistleblowers and the vast majority of VA employees who are doing critically important work every day on behalf of Indiana’s and America’s veterans. I’m proud to help this bipartisan effort cross the finish line, as we continue working to ensure our veterans receive the care they have earned and deserve.”

The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act does the following:

  •  Gives VA the ability to terminate any employee for misconduct or wrongdoing while maintaining due process protections for VA employees to challenge their termination before and after their removal;
  •  Gives VA authority to recoup bonuses paid to employees with records of poor performance or misconduct, if VA determines the bonus would not have been paid had such conduct been known prior to payment;
  •  Codifies the creation of a whistleblower protection office and mandate that the head of such office be a Senate-confirmable position. It directs VA to provide periodic training for managers and supervisors, including on whistleblower rights and effective management; and
  •  Makes it easier for VA to hire health care executives by allowing VA to make direct hires, rather than going through the full civil service hiring process, for these positions.

The law had broad support including from: VA Secretary Shulkin, The American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Reserve Officers Association, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and Vietnam Veterans of America, among others.