Donald Trump to create new office on VA accountability, whistleblower protection

Donald Trump to create new office on VA accountability, whistleblower protection

The executive order being signed by Trump would create a VA office to "discipline or terminate VA managers or employees who fail to carry out their duties in helping our veterans". Dr. David Shulkin, the Secretary of Veteran Affairs, visited the Durham VA, the facility that made national headlines in February when photos of a veteran lying on the floor surfaced.

Seekins, who stood next to Shulkin while he spoke, nodded along to Shulkin's praise and acknowledgment that Durham's VA is one of the fastest growing medical facilities in the country with a recent average of 900 new patients per month.

He added that the creation of the new office is created to hold anyone who "fail our veterans" accountable.

"In the 114th Congress alone, the House twice passed the same provision authored by former Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, who during her tenure, introduced standalone legislation in the last two Congresses". A Choice program meant to reduce wait times by giving veterans more access to the private sector has suffered long delays of its own, while the VA has suffered staff shortages that has worsened a backlog of disability claims. "This is going to be substantial", he said.

Shulkin says Trump's decision to create the office by executive order speaks to his commitment to accountability at the VA.

The memo comes as the Trump administration seeks to highlight accomplishment and accountability at the VA.

"This executive order makes it clear that we will never ever tolerate substandard care for our great veterans", Trump said. "But we know that that's not going to be enough to get done what I want to get done, which is to be able to, once we identify people that need to leave the organization, to get them out quickly". That legislation stalled last Congress after unanimously passing the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. "We will take actions" if it is determined that an employee whistleblower has been subject to retaliation for coming forward, he said.

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Veterans' organizations agree that legislation is needed, and are pressing the Senate to act.

The office will investigate allegations of misconduct - including retaliation against whistle-blowing employees who reported abuses and long wait times - and duplication within the agency's workforce.

Earlier in the day, VA officials announced they planned to leave open thousands of positions left vacant by the recent federal hiring freeze, citing the need for leaner department operations.

Coleman said real VA whistleblowers are being considered to be a part of the new office.

Shulkin acknowledged that there will be an additional cost to this office, stating that it is an important responsibility.

Coleman said he hopes the new office will change the culture at Phoenix VA.

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