Federal Manager's Daily Report

Improvements in the HR function are needed to help address the VA’s problems with recruiting and retaining medical personnel, says a House report in support of a committee-passed bill (HR-5864).

The report notes that under a series of laws, the VA has been required to report in recent years on staffing needs for clinical occupations in its Veterans Health Administration, which accounts for about nine-tenths of its workforce. Those reports have “found a consistent need for physicians, nurses, psychologists, physician assistants, medical technologists, and physical therapists,” it says.

For the 2018 version, it added, the VA also was required to report on its greatest non-clinical need, with HR emerging at the top of that list.

The report said the Veterans Affairs Committee “has become increasingly concerned in recent years that VHA HR professionals may not have the necessary qualifications to adequately fulfill their obligations. This concern has been compounded by several committee investigations which found VHA HR professionals with substandard educational and professional backgrounds.

“Given the direct impact that staffing shortages have on VHA’s ability to ensure timely access to quality care for veteran patients, the committee believes that improving VHA’s HR functions should be a priority for the department,” the report said.

The bill would require the VA to establish qualification standards and performance metrics for HR positions within the VHA. The GAO would assess those standards and their implementation.