- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

President Trump is expected to issue an executive order Thursday creating an office within the Department of Veterans Affairs to take charge of disciplining or firing incompetent employees and protecting whistleblowers.

Mr. Trump will visit the VA headquarters near the White House to create the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, which will be aimed at helping VA Secretary David J. Shulkin to discipline or terminate VA managers or employees who fail to carry out their duties, a White House official confirmed.

The embattled agency was criticized repeatedly during the Obama administration for failing to discipline employees engaged in wrongdoing. Whistleblowers in the VA also have faced retaliation in what they say is a pattern to silence critics of the agency’s operations.

Concerned Veterans for America applauded the announcement, but the group said the effort needs to be backed up with legislation that will help the new office carry out its goals.

“President Trump put veterans at the top of his priority list in his first 100 days, and we’re confident he will continue to do everything in his power to take care of them,” said CVA Executive Director Mark Lucas. “This new executive order should be a wake-up call to Congress that the VA is continuing to fail because of employee negligence and misconduct.”

The House has passed the VA Accountability First Act of 2017, which would give the agency more authority to discipline employees. But a similar measure faces opposition, mainly from Democrats in the Senate.

Mr. Lucas said Mr. Shulkin’s “hands will be tied until Congress passes strong accountability legislation, like the VA Accountability First Act, to let him get these bad VA employees out quickly. The ball is in the Senate’s court.”

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