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Sinema-Supported VA Accountability Legislation Passes House

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 29, 2015
Contact: Macey Matthews
Phone: 202-225-9888
Email: macey.matthews@mail.house.gov

Sinema-Supported VA Accountability Legislation Passes House

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed the VA Accountability Act (H.R. 1994), legislation co-sponsored by Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, to hold VA employees accountable and improve performance at the VA. 

The bill also includes an amendment offered by Congresswoman Sinema and Congressman Dan Benishek (MI-01) to ensure individual managers are held accountable to fix problems identified by the VA Office of Inspector General (VAOIG).

“It’s ridiculous that two employees responsible for the tragedies at the Phoenix VA have been on paid leave for over a year,” said Congresswoman Sinema.  “It’s wrong that it takes this long to fire people responsible for poor treatment of veterans.  This legislation gives the VA the authority it needs to hold employees accountable, fire bad actors, and put veterans first.”

Congresswoman Sinema spoke on the House floor about her amendment:

Congresswoman Sinema’s full remarks are below:

Thank you Mr. Speaker and thank you Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Brown and Chairman Benishek for your efforts to improve the quality of care and services delivered to our veterans.

The Benishek/Sinema amendment is a commonsense amendment that will bring accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The amendment, based on a bill Dr. Benishek and I introduced called the Demanding Accountability for Veterans Act, requires the VA to address problems identified by the VA Office of Inspector General (VAOIG) and ensures individual managers are held accountable if issues remain unresolved. 

Our amendment requires that in each covered VA Inspector General report the Secretary of the VA assign specific managers who will be responsible for fixing specific problems identified within the IG’s report.

The Secretary must give the responsible managers appropriate counseling and plans of action to resolve each covered issue. Bonuses cannot be paid if a covered issue remains unresolved, and how a manager responds to the challenge will be included in the individual’s performance evaluation.

This is commonsense accountability that will empower good managers and force the VA to address challenges it has too often ignored.

It is unacceptable that issues raised by the VA Inspector General over and over, from wait times to medical staffing, remain unresolved by VA. 

This amendment will hold the VA Secretary and senior management accountable for ensuring these warnings are not ignored again. 

We have a long way to go to change the system and culture of the VA, and I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure veterans come first.

Again, thank you Chairman Miller and Ranking Member Brown for your leadership and work on behalf of veterans.

And thank you Chairman Benishek for thoughtful, bipartisan approach to fixing the Department of Veterans Affairs.

 

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