Congress continues work on an Obama administration proposal to essentially strip senior execs at the VA of appeal rights by moving them into the Title 38 category for medical personnel, where appeals are handled only within the department. No bill has been introduced yet, although chances of the Senate joining in what has been mainly a House-based effort have increased with a letter to the MSPB from four leading Senators on veterans issues. They raised the same objections to three recent decisions overturning discipline of senior executives that spurred the administration’s proposal and the move in the House to draft a bill going even farther. “Congress will soon be examining necessary reforms based on MSPB’s recent decisions preventing accountability at the VA,” said the letter, arguing that the way MSPB is applying the current law “will discourage the reporting of misconduct in the future and prevent any faith that VA employees are accountable for wrongdoing moving forward.” Other options include restricting appeals rights government-wide for SES members; allowing only internal reviews for the entire VA workforce, not just those already under Title 38; reducing the annuities of executives found to have violated law during their official duties; and restricting administrative leave for those under investigation, an idea already in several other bills.
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