Senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department could have their pensions docked and their bonuses cut under legislation introduced Jan. 22.
Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced the Increasing VA Accountability to Veterans Act of 2015, which would allow the agency to reduce a senior executive service employee's pension if they are convicted of a crime during their tenure.
The legislation would also place a 14 day limit on the amount of time SES members could spend on paid administrative leave. Also, only 30 percent of senior executives could receive top performance ratings and qualify for bonuses in any given year.
The legislation would also require all SES employees to change jobs within the department at least once every five years.
The VA has come under fire from veteran groups and lawmakers for not doing enough to punish VA employees who manipulated wait lists and scheduling systems to boost performance numbers. Initial investigations showed systemic wait list and medical care issues and forced the resignation of then-secretary Eric Shinseki.
Miller said that despite earlier legislation strengthening the VA's ability to fire senior executives, the agency has not held the appropriate people accountable or used its enhanced firing authority effectively.
The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 passed by Congress Aug. 7 gave the VA secretary the power to more easily fire and demote senior execs, which proponents say is crucial to reforming the agency.
"More than nine months after the VA scandal, Americans are asking 'where is the accountability?' Unfortunately, VA doesn't have a good answer to this question. That's why our focus remains on giving the VA secretary more tools to ensure corrupt and incompetent executives face serious consequences for mismanagement and malfeasance that harms veterans," Miller said in a statement.