VA publishes list of firings, suspensions

man planning layoffs 

In the wake of landmark workforce legislation giving the Veterans Affairs secretary new authority to fire and discipline employees, the agency released a list of adverse personnel actions from the past six months.

VA isn't naming names, but the adverse action report released July 3 gives the job functions and locations of hundreds of employees that were fired, suspended or demoted since the Trump administration took office on Jan 20. More categories of punishment will be added to the list, according to the VA.

Individuals subject to discipline and firing range from cemetery groundskeepers to food service employees to doctors, nurses and medical technicians.

Noticeably absent was any job listed under the Office of Information and Technology, the VA's centralized IT operation.

"Under this administration, VA is committed to becoming the most transparent organization in government. Together with the Accountability bill the president signed into law recently, this additional step will continue to shine a light on the actions we're taking to reform the culture at VA," Secretary David Shulkin said in a statement.

Shulkin has championed streamlined firing authority as a way of getting rid of poor performers at the VA without protracted appeals processes.

"There is nothing more demoralizing than being in an organization, working alongside people that everybody knows no longer shares the values, morals and ethics of the vast majority of people who go to work every day for the right reasons," Shulkin said at press roundtable in June.

The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 250,000 VA workers, took issue with the move.

The list "isn't transparency" said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr., "it's an intimidation tactic."

"One-third of all VA employees are veterans themselves, and yet the Administration is busy patting themselves on the back while so many veterans are being told they no longer have a job. Window-dressing reforms like this do nothing to address the underlying issue at the VA, which is the shortage of doctors, nurses, and intake staff at hospitals and clinics across the country," Cox said.

President Donald Trump signed the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act into law on June 23.

Shulkin also announced that VA would henceforth require any employee's financial settlement as part of a separation agreement that is over $5,000 will require high-level approval, either from a VA undersecretary, assistant secretary or equivalent.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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