Pay & Benefits

Bill would give VA the power to revoke bonuses

Are you a Veterans Affairs Department manager who has gotten a bonus? One lawmaker wants to give the agency the power to take it back.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced legislation Jan. 13 that would give the VA secretary the authority to revoke bonuses given to executives.

The VA paid more than $380,000 in bonuses to executives at 38 hospitals that are under investigation for falsifying wait times for medical care, according to Miller.

The VA has been reeling from investigations showing the agency falsified waiting lists in order to boost performance ratings, harming its patients and forcing veterans to wait months for medical care - a scandal that originally focused on the Phoenix health care system before expanding across the country.

The scandal led to the resignation of then-secretary Eric Shinseki, and to widespread reforms at the agency, including new firing authorities.

"Ideally, VA employees and executives who collected bonuses under false pretenses should be subject to prosecution when warranted, but at a minimum their bonuses should be paid back in full," Miller said. "I urge my colleagues to support this bill so the VA secretary will have another tool to instill some much-needed accountability throughout the department."

Under the bill the secretary would issue an order for an employee to pay back part or all of a bonus. The employee would have a chance for a hearing before a final decision is made. The bill states that there would be no further appeal or review process.

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