- The Washington Times - Monday, September 8, 2014

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald laid out Monday a 90-day plan to increase efficiency and improve care at the department, though many of the efforts echo fixes he’s previously announced.

In a press conference at the VA headquarters in D.C., Mr. McDonald promised to look for and eliminate work that didn’t benefit veterans, providing the best customer service possible.

“If we have work that doesn’t add value to the veteran, we’ll stop doing it and redeploy those assets to veterans,” he said.

He also said he has a team in place meeting every other week to ensure the new reform bill is implemented quickly and effectively.

When asked about firing personnel responsible for data manipulation to hold them accountable, Mr. McDonald said the department had proposed disciplinary action against three senior executive action employees at the Phoenix facility where the VA scandal surfaced earlier this year.

“We are as impatient as you are,” he said. “But while investigations are going on, we are not allowed to take definitive action.”

While he told many positive stories he heard during his town halls at VA facilities across the country, he also heard some horror stories — including one man who got a call for his father to enroll in VA care 20 years after he was buried by the VA.

He promised to be transparent about the department, vowing to do away with the hierarchy and make veterans the top priority. He even gave out his cellphone number to reporters during the press conference in an effort to prove his accessibility.

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