Federal Manager's Daily Report

The bill also would make numerous changes to benefit programs and departmental operations. Image: The Bold Bureau/Shutterstock.com

A wide-ranging bill (HR-8371) on VA workforce issues, including planning and pay issues, has been introduced by bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees, largely tying together numerous bills previously introduced and likely serving as the main vehicle for addressing those issues for this year.

The bill would require the VA to “develop and implement a staffing model” for its Veterans Integrated Services Networks and medical centers, to include target staffing levels to “ensure timely access to care and to effectively oversee the provision of care,” according to a summary. The VA further would have to “implement a plan to incorporate performance metrics and accountability measures within performance appraisal systems for those employees responsible for providing timely access to care” and report a year afterward on “the implementation of and outcomes yielded” by the staffing model and the performance metrics.

On compensation-related issues, the bill would expand the coverage of certain rules and benefits to optometrists; ensure that each physician, podiatrist, optometrist and dentist is “advised annually of specific criteria for their compensation, evaluated accordingly, and compensated based on applicable assignment and pay levels”; and require annual reporting on market-based pay evaluations and adjustments by facility.

Also, the VA would have more flexibility to pay awards, recruitment or relocation incentives and other types of incentives and allowances regardless of pay limits; allow waivers of pay limits for the recruitment or retention of critical health care personnel, with a priority for certain positions and locations; and allow retroactive compensation to certain employees for periods where compensation was deferred due to exceeding caps in the past.

The bill also would make numerous changes to benefit programs and departmental operations.

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