President Trump has put his “Apprentice”catch phrase into action by saying “you’re fired” to five hundred and forty-eight employees from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), since taking office.
Having called the VA, “probably the most incompetently run agency in the United States,” during his campaign, it seems Trump is making good on his promise to clean-up the department.
An additional 200 employees have been suspended and 33 demoted, including 22 senior leaders, over 70 nurses, 14 police officers, and 25 doctors. Many low level employees have been fired from positions like food service and housekeeping, since the department had hired felons and convicted sex offenders to do these jobs. The Government Accountability Office, which audits the department, has also been disciplined.
VA secretary David Shulkin, complained of groups supporting the bad employees, even at the expense of veterans, under Obama. “Just last week we were forced to take back an employee after they were convicted no more than three times for DWI and had served a 60 day jail sentence … Our accountability processes are clearly broken,” he said at the White House.
Reported by the Daily Caller:
Scores of veterans have died waiting for care while VA bureaucrats falsified data to procure monetary bonuses, but fixes have been slow to come by largely because the union that represents VA employees has used its political muscle with Democrats to emphasize job security for government employees.
In addition to reluctance by managers to vigorously pursue firings, the overturning of firings after the fact by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) — often with little public acknowledgment — has been a longstanding problem.
Shulkin asked for new legislation that reduces the role of MSPB, especially when firing senior leaders. Congress passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act in answer, and Trump signed the bill in June.