“Clearly, we are deeply concerned and distressed about the allegations that employees who sought to report deficiencies were either ignored, or worse, intimidated into silence,” he said.
Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, expressed little doubt that more whistleblower complaints would emerge as the VA continues to deal with a scandal involving manipulated patient wait times at multiple facilities across the U.S.
“VA has failed to engage their clinician workforce as partners, as evidenced by the numerous whistleblowers who have come forward to share their stories of retribution and reprisal and the many more who continue to call our offices yet, understandably, are reluctant to come forward publicly,” Mr. Miller said.
Eric K. Shinseki resigned as VA secretary May 30, a month after he became embroiled in the scandal over unacceptably long wait times for some veterans.
The fallout continues. Lydia Dennett, a spokeswoman for the Project On Government Oversight, said the watchdog group still receives confidential reports from VA employees about retaliation. She said some employees informed the agency’s inspector general but didn’t receive any feedback on their complaints.
She said she was unsure whether another level of federal review of whistleblower complaints was necessary but added that the VA needed restore the trust of its employees.
This week, the watchdog released a report saying it had received nearly 800 complaints from current or former VA employees and veterans, the most in its history on any topic.
A doctor in Pennsylvania told the group he was removed from his job and told to sit in an office with nothing to do after he complained about colleagues who weren’t showing up to work.
Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson said in a speech this week that the VA would do a better job of listening to workers who file complaints about workplace and patient safety issues.