Isakson bill aims at accountability at VA

By:  Dave Williams

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., introduced bipartisan legislation Thursday aimed at increasing accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The bill is a follow-up to an executive order President Donald Trump issued last month establishing an Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection within the Veterans Administration.

"When the VA cannot hold bad actors accountable, everyone loses," Isakson said. "Taxpayer dollars are wasted on employees who are not fully committed to helping our veterans. Other employees at the VA suffer because they are forced to work alongside or take direction from delinquent individuals.

"Most egregiously, our veterans suffer because the people responsible for caring for them are putting themselves first -– not our veterans."

The legislation would increase the VA's authority to remove employees at all levels of the department, shortening the removal process and ensuring that an individual removed from the agency is not kept on its payroll.

The bill also would make it easier for the VA to remove poor-performing senior executives and replace them with qualified candidates.

Isakson is chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. Among the bill's co-sponsors is Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., the committee's ranking Democrat.