The VA has posted online the first of what it says will be weekly reports on disciplinary actions it has taken against its employees, apparently the first such disclosure by any agency and potentially a precedent for others to follow.
The VA has been under pressure to step up disciplinary actions since the revelations three years ago that some medical facilities had made it appear that veterans were getting care more promptly than was the case. One result was the recent enactment of a law strengthening management’s hand in discipline and limiting employee appeal rights.
Listing pending disciplinary actions was the department’s own initiative, however, what it called “a further step on transparency and accountability as a follow-on” to that change in law. It lists major disciplinary actions by type–removal, demotion or suspension of more than 14 days–since the Trump administration took office, along with the employees’ occupations and components–although not their names or locations.
Of the roughly 750 actions listed–from a workforce of some 360,000–more than 500 are removals and all but a few have already occurred. The listing does not specify how many of those actions were taken during the employee’s probationary period, when appeal rights are very limited. Traditionally a large portion of removals occurs during that period.
The VA said that future listings also will show other, less serious, types of discipline.
The department meanwhile announced that any settlement with an employee of above $5,000 will now require approval of the top official of the component involved. Such settlements commonly are reached when employees appeal a personnel action but the case is settled before a decision by an outside party such as the MSPB.