VA pays $142,000,000 in bonuses to its executives and employees!

got bonus? Campaign to end bonuses for VA executives!

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs doled out more than $142 million in bonuses to executives and employees for performance in 2014 even as scandals over veterans’ health care and other issues racked the agency.

Among the recipients were claims processors in a Philadelphia benefits office that investigators dubbed the worst in the country last year. They received $300 to $900 each. Managers in Tomah, Wis., got $1,000 to $4,000, even though they oversaw the over-prescription of opiates to veterans – one of whom died.

The VA also rewarded executives who managed construction of a facility in Denver, a disastrous project years overdue and more than $1 billion over budget. They took home $4,000 to $8,000 each. And in St. Cloud, Minn., where an internal investigation report last year outlined mismanagement that led to mass resignations of health care providers, the chief of staff cited by investigators received a performance bonus of almost $4,000.

As one of his final acts last year before resigning, then-VA secretary Eric Shinsekiannounced he was suspending bonuses in the wake of revelations that VA employees falsified wait lists to meet wait-time targets — ostensibly as part of efforts to secure the extra pay. But he only curtailed them for a sliver of VA executives — those in senior levels of the Veterans Health Administration, which oversees health care.

The agency has continued to pay performance-based bonuses to nearly half of agency employees, including in health administration, according to data provided to USA TODAY by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. In all, some 156,000 executives, managers and employees received them for 2014 performance.

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VA spokesman James Hutton said the vast majority of agency employees are committed to serving veterans.

“VA will continue to review tools and options in order to ensure the department is able to attract and retain the best talent to serve our nation’s veterans, while operating as a good steward of taxpayer funds,” Hutton said.

That’s not good enough for Florida Republican Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House VA committee, which has been investigating questionable VA bonuses for years. Miller says the most recent awards reflect a “disturbing trend of rewarding employees who preside over corruption and incompetence.”

He noted the agency paid more than $380,000 in 2013 performance bonuses to top officials at hospitals where veterans faced long delays in receiving treatment, including those under investigation for wait-time manipulation. “Rewarding failure only breeds more failure,” he said Tuesday. “Until VA leaders learn this important lesson and make a commitment to supporting real accountability at the department, efforts to reform VA are doomed to fail.”

Controversies – Awful Managers: VA Edition – AllGov – News

Some managers at the Veterans Administration central office have been accused of incompetence, bullying and discrimination in a report to the agency by a union. The American Federation of Government Employees Local 17, at the request of VA director Bob McDonald, submitted a list of complaints about management to the agency. The report, with names redacted, was obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by Government Executive. Among the complaints in the report: ·       One supervisor “humiliates her subordinates in public with a raised voice to ensure that her words are audible to all. She insults dedicated employees regarding their commitment and competence but fails to give constructive feedback. She bullies, issues threats, screams, and uses derogatory names. When she is dissatisfied with an employee for any reason, she ceases communications with and sidelines the employee, leaving him or her with little idea of what is going on. She rants and raves upon hearing an opposing opinion or any opinion that is not her own.” ·       Another “is untrustworthy and dishonest. For example, she has instructed subordinates to sign documents indicating that midyear evaluations took place even though they had not. Indeed, she has failed to issue both performance standards and performance evaluations to some employees in violation of VA policy and OPM regulations.” ·       Another “did away with compressed work schedules (CWS) that had been in place prior to her arrival, she got rid of telework despite the fact that a telework agreement was in place, and she forced part-time employees to return to full-time work. Her employees, who enjoyed a certain level of flexibility through CWS, telework, and part-time arrangements were made to adhere to a strict 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. schedule. Even minor tardiness is not tolerated; for example, employees who are no more than 15 minutes late are compelled to take either paid or unpaid leave. . . . Employees must request permission to use the bathroom.” There are no rebuttals in the report from the managers named and the VA did not comment on the report.

Source: Controversies – Awful Managers: VA Edition – AllGov – News

More than 2,500 VA employees were on paid leave last year. The VA hasn’t tracked why. – The Washington Post

More than 2,500 employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs were placed on paid leave for at least a month last year, and the agency acknowledges it didn’t track the details and why they were sent home, according to newly released information.The total tab in salary alone for these absences — ranging from 30 days to more than a year for 46 employees — came to $23 million, according to a report provided to several congressional Republicans.VA, responding earlier this year to requests from Congress to account for why so many federal workers linger on paid leave, often when they are accused of wrongdoing, said it was reviewing its policies on what is known as administrative leave.

Source: More than 2,500 VA employees were on paid leave last year. The VA hasn’t tracked why. – The Washington Post

Vermont VA POLICE OFFICER pleads guilty to road rage cha – WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-


VA police officer pleads guilty to using her gun to threaten a motorist.

A former Veterans Affairs police officer who worked at the VA Hospital in Vermont has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a road rage incident in Maine. Demetria Buhalis of Brownsville, Vermont, pointed a gun at a driver and passenger along Interstate 95 in Gardiner, Maine. The Portland Press Herald reports that Buhalis pleaded guilty Tuesday to criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. Under the plea deal, if Buhalis stays out of trouble for a year, the felony charge will be dropped and she’ll only have a misdemeanor on her record.

Source: Former Vermont VA Hospital worker pleads guilty to road rage cha – WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

I-Team: Haley VA Hospital targeted by cyberattack – Story | | Tampa Bay News, Weather, Sports, Things To Do | WFTS-TV

TAMPA – A cyber attack forced the James A. Haley VA Medical Center to partially shut down a computer drive shared by thousands of employees for days while experts assessed the damage. The servers inside the hospital contain sensitive personal and medical information about nearly 100,000 veterans and 5,000 employees. The VA discovered Friday that the data was put at risk by a Trojan virus discovered on a computer drive shared by 4,000 employees. The virus corrupted multiple files. “It is highly likely this was an employee who fell for a fishing scam that was sent by the bad guys,” said Stu Sjouwerman, who is CEO of a Tampa Bay cyber security company called KnowBe4. His staff trains employees from more than 2,000 com

Source: I-Team: Haley VA Hospital targeted by cyberattack – Story | | Tampa Bay News, Weather, Sports, Things To Do | WFTS-TV

UPDATE | Veteran reacts to VA employee charged with falsifying medical records

News 12 at 6 o’clock / July 18, 2015 AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) — A former Charlie Norwood employee is charged on 50 counts of falsifying medical records. The VA terminated Cathedral Henderson’s access to all systems, and placed him on administrative leave. A patient of the V.A., Jeremy Johnson served in the army for five years. He calls the former employee’s alleged actions unacceptable. He to Charlie Norwood for his medical care, and says many of the trips have been good ones. “I came in like an hour early for one appointment. My doctor actually skipped his lunch in order to see me for that hour I was early,” he said. But he says more than once, employees have lost his paperwork and messed up his appointment schedules. Authorities allege former the Chief of Fee Basis at Charlie Norwood, Cathedral Henderson terminated unresolved consults, by saying the patients had completed of refused services. “Charlie Norwood has had a bad rap, I think they’ve earned it. I think they’re doing better, I think they’re going in the right direction. but these 50 counts of mishandling information, it’s just horrible,” said Johnson. The Assistant Inspector General for Investigations says “these alleged actions give the appearance that medical care was rendered or in some cases the appearance that veterans declined medical care.” Yesterday Henderson was placed on administrative leave, and his access terminated from all systems, but he is not fired. His lawyer sent News 12 a statement, saying Henderson was a model employee there for 20 years and an army veteran. “In general, all around bad situation. I really felt that they were doing better, they were getting better with their appointments but with this thing it kind of sets them back a lot,” said Johnson.

Source: UPDATE | Veteran reacts to VA employee charged with falsifying medical records

VA IG substatniates inadequate medical care at the Kansas City, M VA

OIG conducted an inspection at the request of Representative Kevin Yoder in response to concerns about the extent to which a patient received timely and adequate care for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other health care needs at the Kansas City VA Medical Center (facility), Kansas City, MO. … We substantiated that aspects of the patient’s care were inadequate. In particular, we found that some requests for outpatient consultations were inappropriately cancelled or discontinued, the patient’s abnormal findings and/or care needs were not fully assessed, and appropriate consults were not made when the patient was treated in the Emergency Department. Whether addressing these issues previously would have resulted in a different outcome for the patient is unknown. However, addressing these issues now will help facilitate a more patient-centered environment, especially for those veterans with complex medical and mental health issues. Incidental to our review, we noted that because the facility did not have a signed release of information, staff were unable to discuss the patient’s care with a family member. We made one recommendation to the Interim Under Secretary for Health and three recommendations to the Facility Director. The Interim Under Secretary for Health and the Veterans Integrated Service Network and Facility Directors concurred with our findings and recommendations.

Source: Report Summary

VA Hospital director planned for a “fast exit” before 9WTK investigation aired

KUSA – Retired Denver VA Hospital Director Lynette Roff made plans for a “fast exit” from the agency just prior to 9Wants to Know airing a whistleblower report in January, according to an email obtained by 9NEWS. 9Wants to Know obtained several documents relating to Roff’s retirement through a Federal Freedom of Information Act request. The documents include an email from Roff dated January 26, 2015, just days after members of Congress approached the Denver VA asking about a secret patient wait list obtained by 9NEWS. Roff had repeatedly refused 9NEWS interview requests about the list. Roff said in the email she wanted to retire March 1, and she explained, “I do not want staff to know and so when I go, would like to make it fast.” She also wrote she had spoken to her direct supervisor about making a “fast exit.” The email recipient’s name has been redacted. “No one prompted me to retire,” Roff said in a phone interview Friday with 9Wants to Know investigator Melissa Blasius.  Roff said she had been thinking about retiring for two years and wanted to do it quietly because “I didn’t want to be a lame duck.”

Source: VA Hospital director planned for a “fast exit” before 9WTK investigation aired

SA whistleblower says VA hospital exposed workers to asbestos – San Antonio Express-News

Federal investigators Friday said they’ve confirmed a San Antonio whistleblower’s claim that the Audie Murphy VA Hospital failed to protect maintenance workers there from unsafe levels of asbestos and didn’t properly monitor the employee. The Office of Special Counsel, in a letter to President Barack Obama and Congress, said it confirmed most of the whistleblower’s allegations, finding that he and others were exposed to airborne asbestos. That exposure came after they were told to remove material containing asbestos, a deadly cancer-causing agent. The worker, a longtime maintenance employee, told authorities that he and others were ordered to work in asbestos-contaminated spaces without precautions or protective equipment. He said supervisors knew the areas contained asbestos, which is found in products ranging from roof shingles and cement to floor tiles and plumbing. If those products are disturbed, asbestos fibers can become airborne and enter the lungs. The OSC said in the letter that it could not confirm that medical center managers knowingly told workers to perform maintenance tasks without proper protection. The Veterans Administration, in a statement, didn’t address that issue, didn’t say how many people were exposed and didn’t admit wrongdoing. It said corrective action was immediately taken after the agency’s Office of the Medical Inspector examined construction projects two years ago that could expose workers to asbestos.

Source: SA whistleblower says VA hospital exposed workers to asbestos – San Antonio Express-News

Surviving Resignation Calls, VA Official Says ‘My Faith Kept Me Here’ |

Some 15 months ago, with the Veterans Affairs Department mired in scandal over secret waitlists for patients that were linked to deaths, lawmakers and at least one major veterans service organization demanded the resignations of the agency’s top officials. By mid-May of last year, Veterans Health Administration Under Secretary Dr. Robert Petzel was gone – his planned retirement pushed ahead of schedule when VA Secretary Eric Shinseki asked for his resignation. Not long after that Shinseki tendered his own resignation to President Obama. That left only Veterans Benefits Administration Under Secretary Allison Hickey, who last week – still very much on the job – announced that the disability claims backlog had hit “an historic milestone” by dropping below 100,000 from a high of more than 600,000. Resigning never entered her mind, she told in a separate interview later. “No. And I say that very straightforward,” she said. “I don’t say it was easy.” Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican from Florida who chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee, was the first to call for Hickey’s resignation in March 2014. By May, The American Legion, one of the largest veterans service organizations in the country, joined that call, noting that Shinseki and Petzel needed to go, as well. Neither Miller nor The American Legion would comment for this story. Hickey has been on the job since June 2011. Before then, she headed the Human Capital Management program at the consulting firm Accenture, focusing on the intelligence community and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. For Hickey, the resignation calls came as she was preparing to announce that VA had reduced the backlog by about 50 percent. “So, no, I didn’t [resign],” she said. “You know why? Because I came here for this mission. I came here for the people this mission serves. I gave up a very lucrative job in industry.  I was happy where I was but this was a calling for me.”

Source: Surviving Resignation Calls, VA Official Says ‘My Faith Kept Me Here’ |