- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald said Tuesday that firing processes have begun for employees flagged for disciplinary action in the wake of recent issues with the department that have seen veterans shuttled to secret waiting lists, among other things.

A newly-announced reorganization of the department, intended to boost customer service for veterans, is the biggest in history, he said.

“We can’t change this department unless we change the culture,” Mr. McDonald said on CNN’s “New Day.” “Primary to changing the culture is holding people accountable when they violate our values…if somebody has violated our value of integrity, we’re going to go after and seek their dismissal [or] separation.”

He said there’s a list of about 40 names they report to Congress each week and another list of more than 5,000 names of people they’re seeking disciplinary action against, or who have been disciplined over the last year.

So have they fired any of those approximately 40 people?

“Of course we have,” he said. “The only change [the new law] creates is to shorten the appeal time by half. So we’re following the law - we’re holding people accountable as expeditiously and aggressively as possible, and if members of Congress would like us to do something different, they need to write a new law because we are following the law.”

Mr. McDonald acknowledged there are people on leave and the way the system works for such employees in government is that when a disciplinary action is proposed and the process is ongoing, those people are placed on administrative leave “because we don’t want any harm created to our veterans.”

“So administrative leave is the first step while the process goes on,” he said. “We file the disciplinary procedure, and then the judge decides.”

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