A bill to ban performance bonuses for senior executive employees in the Department of Veterans Affairs unanimously passed the House on Jan 3.
The bill comes on the heels of a software glitch that compromised more than 5,000 veterans’ personal information, as well as an $87 million bill for conferences in 2011 and other boondoggles.
“The fact that so many VA executives collected huge performance bonuses year after year while continually failing at their jobs calls into question whether department leaders even know the meaning of the word ‘accountability,’” said bill co-sponsor Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.
In September 2013, the Senior Executive Association released a statement panning the bill, saying the characterizations of VA executives as incompetent and overpaid was unfair.
“SEA believes that all employees should be held accountable for their performance and for providing services to the American people while effectively managing taxpayer dollars,” Carol Bonosaro, president of SEA, said in the letter.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated the ban on bonuses would save the federal government about $4 million a year until 2018, totaling $18 million.
The bill also extends the Veterans and Retraining and Assistance program through the end of May and gives veterans in-state tuition. It requires VA health officials to obtain the consent of patients before electronically monitoring them in private patient areas and it requires stronger infectious disease reporting in VA hospitals.
“This bill will ensure our veterans’ educational benefits reflect that important principle,” Miller said in a statement.” And because H.R. 357 saves the government money, it’s a win for taxpayers as well as veterans.”
A companion bill was introduced in the Senate last year by Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., but has not seen movement since it was referred to committee.