Federal Manager's Daily Report

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has expanded his scrutiny of agency use of administrative leave to include closer questioning of the VA, which recently revealed to him that it had placed 46 employees on that form of paid time off without charge to leave for a year or more.

As he had previously in response to data provided to him from DHS on use of that leave, also called excused absence, Grassley has written to VA demanding more details on the reasons, calling the agency’s explanations “largely vague, incomplete or incoherent.”

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Grassley said the VA “has a troubled record” with respect to administrative leave, citing reports that employees have been placed on it pending investigations into possible misconduct or in retaliation for their refusal to engage in improper practices regarding patient scheduling.

He said the agency’s response to his initial request contained no explanation at all for why 13 of the 46 were on such extended leave; in some cases the leave was used for union duties; in one case the reason cited need to attend a five-day conference; and in another the cited reason was a dispute over reinstating an employee returning from military duty.

The VA also inadequately explained why it placed some 6,000 employees, out of a total of about 300,000, on administrative leave between one and six months in the 2011-2013 period Grassley said in asking for a fuller accounting.