Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, under fire from Democrats and Republicans to step down in the wake of the latest nationwide wait list scandal, announced this morning he has ordered the removal of the senior leaders responsible for the VA Medical Center at the heart of the recent wait list controversy and has stripped others of their performance bonuses for the year.
“I’ve initiated the process for the removal of the senior leaders of Phoenix VA Medical Center,” Shinseki said, speaking at the 2014 National Coalition for Homeless Veterans conference in Washington, D.C. “No [Veterans Health Administration] senior executive will receive any type of performance award for 2014.”
Shinseki also announced additional reforms designed to improve accountability of senior VA leaders and remove performance measures that may pressure mid-level VA employees and managers to “game the system” by using informal wait lists.
“We will use all authority at our disposal and force accountability among senior leaders who are found to have instigated or tolerated dishonorable or irresponsible scheduling practices at VA healthcare facilities,” Shinseki said.
Shinseki also directed that patient wait times be deleted from VHA employee’s evaluation reports as a measure of their success, said he has ordered accelerated care for those veterans who are currently on informal wait lists nationwide and said he would announce the results of VA’s internal audit in the coming days.
Shinseki called on Congress to support a proposed bill that would give the VA secretary greater authority to remove senior leaders who do not perform.
“The situation can be fixed,” he said.
Shinseki is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama later this morning.