H.R. 4031

Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014

Date
May 21, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Rep. Paul Cook

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, May 21, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 4031, the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014, under suspension of the rules.  H.R. 4031 was introduced on February 11, 2014 by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) and was referred to the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  The bill has 132 bipartisan cosponsors.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4031 gives the Secretary of Veterans Affairs authority to remove an employee of the Senior Executive Service if the Secretary determines that the employee’s performance warrants removal.  The Secretary can remove the individual from federal service entirely, or transfer him to a General Schedule position within the civil service system. Within thirty days of removing the individual, the Secretary must notify the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the removal and the reason for it.  H.R. 4031 provides that the employee’s removal shall be done in the same manner as the removal of a professional staff member of a Member of Congress.

Background

Recent media reports have highlighted severe mismanagement and a lack of accountability across the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  Reports of preventable veteran deaths, “secret” waiting lists intended to conceal the lengthy wait times for patients, and an increased claims backlog have corresponded with bonuses and positive performance reviews for VA management.

Congress established the Senior Executive Service (SES) in 1978 to “provide a government-wide, mobile corps of managers within federal agencies.  The SES, comprising mostly career appointees who are chosen through a merit staffing process, is the link between the politically appointed heads of agencies and the career civil servants within those agencies.  The creators of the SES envisioned it as a cadre of high-level managers in the government who would provide leadership for agencies across administrations and ensure productivity and efficiency within the government.”[1]  Currently, a performance-based removal of an SES employee is a cumbersome, multi-step process.[2]  H.R. 4031 authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to bypass the existing process and remove SES managers whose performance warrants it.  The bill allows such employees to be removed in the same manner as a professional staff member of a Member of Congress.

________________
[1] Maeve P. Carey, The Senior Executive Service: Background and Options for Reform, Congressional Research Service (Sep. 6, 2012) at Summary.
[2] Guide to the Senior Executive Service, U.S. Office of Personnel Management (Apr. 2014).

Cost

According to CBO estimates, there is no cost associated with the bill.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.