The Veterans Affairs Department fired about 2,572 employees in fiscal 2014 – up from 2,264 in fiscal 2013, according to numbers from the Office of Personnel Management.
The 13 percent increase comes as the agency works to improve accountability in the wake of a wait list manipulation scandal. Veterans groups and lawmakers have said the VA has not done enough to punish VA employees who manipulated wait lists and scheduling systems to boost performance numbers – putting veterans at risk.
The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
Initial investigations showed systemic wait list and medical care issues and forced the resignation of then-secretary Eric Shinseki. Current VA secretary Bob McDonald – who was sworn into office July 30, 2014 - has vowed to improve accountability and strengthen oversight over patient-care programs.
The Veterans Health Administration makes up the vast majority of VA firings with 2,426 in fiscal 2014 – about 94 percent of all agency employees fired that fiscal year.
But while overall firings did increase in fiscal 2014 none were members of the Senior Executive Service, while only two were fired in fiscal 2013. 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 and shortened the waiting period for a Merit Systems Protection Board review.
In the first few months of fiscal 2015 the VA did use its authority to remove three senior executives, while two more have retired, according to the agency.
Since June, 2014 about 91 percent of the VA's medical facilities have new leaders or leadership teams, according to the agency, while more than 8,309 staff have completed new scheduling training.