Just a little while ago, the United States House passed Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R, GA) Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act.
Sen. Isakson stated:
“I am thrilled that the House has passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. I want to thank House leadership for quickly taking action and House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Roe and Ranking Member Walz for their support of this critical issue. Now, with President Trump’s support, this bill is on its way to becoming the law of the land to help ensure that the VA is accountable to our nation’s veterans.”
Below is the background provided by Sen. Isakson’s office via a press release.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act increases the VA’s authority to remove employees at all levels of the department, shortens the removal process and ensures an individual removed from the VA is not kept on the VA’s payroll while appealing that decision. It also makes it easier for the VA to remove poor performing senior executives and replace them with qualified candidates. Additionally, any appeals by senior VA executives would no longer be brought before the Merit Systems Protection Board, but instead would be handled directly by the VA secretary under an expedited timeline.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act also establishes in law the newly created Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection within the VA, which mirrors a proposal first introduced by Isakson in his Veterans First Act last Congress.
The legislation also includes a number of other provisions to hold employees accountable, including:
- Requires the VA to evaluate supervisors based on the protection of whistleblowers;
- Incentivizes managers to address poor performance and misconduct among employees by requiring the VA secretary to include this as part of the annual performance plan;
- Prohibits bonuses for employees who have been found guilty of wrongdoing; and
- Prohibits relocation expenses to employees who abuse the system.
A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here.