- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 15, 2015

UPDATED:

VA Secretary Robert McDonald said Sunday that 900 employees at the scandal-plagued agency have lost their jobs under his leadership since July.

“We’ve held accountable about 900 employees who are no longer with us since I became secretary,” Mr. McDonald said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Of those, 60 were employees who manipulated wait-time data as part of last year’s scandal when a whistleblower alleged that veterans were dying while waiting for care. Mr. McDonald said 100 senior leaders are currently under investigation.

The rate of firings, however, is lower than that under Mr. McDonald’s predecessor, retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, according to a staff member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.



Data from the Office of Personnel Management shows that 4,300 VA employees were let go under Mr. Shinseki’s two-year term. That would be an average rate of more than 1,000 employees let go over six months — more than the 900 fired since Mr. McDonald took over in July.

Meanwhile, problems at the agency continue. The VA recently was added to a list of high-risk agencies because of a lack of oversight, sub-par training for employees and trouble implementing legislation enacted last summer designed to help veterans get timely care.

Mr. McDonald said he met with the comptroller general and “encouraged” him to include the VA as one of the more than 30 government agencies on the high-risk list.

“I want to be on that list. I want to shine a light on what we’re doing, and that’s what we’re working to do,” the VA chief said.

When questioned about a heated exchange with Rep. Mike Coffman in last week’s House Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing in which the congressman said the new secretary was not making any difference, Mr. McDonald said that even leaders from veterans service organizations have said the agency is improving.

“We’re not where we need to be yet, I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is we’re making progress,” he said.

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