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A peek inside the VA

The WP does what I think is an excellent running piece called Verbatim, in which they run extended excerpts of interesting exchanges. In the paper this morning, they have what I think is an interesting insight into what are the tense feelings at the VA, given all the was-missing-but-has-been-found personal data issue. And they come from e-mails from within the agency. (The WP doesn't say how it got those e-mails, but...)

Departures at VA Leave Some Employees on Edge

Tuesday, July 25, 2006; A13

For two months, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been reeling from the fallout of the theft of computer equipment containing sensitive personal information on millions of veterans and active-duty military members. Last Wednesday, VA General Counsel Tim S. McClain announced that he would resign effective Sept. 1, becoming the fifth official to resign or be forced out since the May 3 burglary at a VA analyst's home.

Deborah K. McCallum, an assistant general counsel at VA, vented her feelings about McClain's departure in two e-mails to other lawyers in the Office of the General Counsel (OGC). The second e-mail is copied to John H. "Jack" Thompson, the deputy general counsel.

-- Christopher Lee

From: McCallum, Deborah

Sent: Wednesday, July 19, 2006 8:45 a.m.

To: OGC EEO/Personnel Attorneys

Subject: Let's All Keep Our Fingers Crossed . . .

This is just my personal view, but I cannot begin to tell you how upset I am that Tim appears to be the latest "casualty" of the fallout from the computer theft issue. The AG's [assistant general counsels] learned about Tim's resignation in a meeting he held with us at noon yesterday and I've been ticked off ever since. Needless to say, we all wish Tim well. He has been one of the best GCs we've had in my 16 years with the Agency and his leadership and level-headed approach to running GC will be sorely missed. As you can see, it is an uneasy time to be working up here in VACO [the VA central office]. We're all wondering who the "powers that be" will be coming after next. Light a candle for us.

Deborah K. McCallum,

Assistant General Counsel

Department of Veterans Affairs

From: McCallum, Deborah

Sent: Wednesday, July 19, 2006 1:00 p.m.

To: OGC EEO/Personnel Attorneys

Cc: Thompson, Jack H., OGC

Subject: Tim's Departure

To All:

In follow up to this morning's email from me regarding Tim's resignation, Jack has since assured me that Tim is not being forced out and in fact the front office is very sorry to see him go. He has simply decided he would like to explore opportunities in the private sector, and he is more comfortable doing that from the outside. That certainly makes me feel better about his departure, although I will still be very sorry to see him go. He's been a friend to all of us in OGC and a great boss.

Deborah K. McCallum

Assistant General Counsel

Department of Veterans Affairs

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Jul 25, 2006 at 12:15 PM


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