The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) this week announced a new policy under which all major disciplinary actions taken against VA employees will be publicly posted.
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said the decision, which is a controversial historic first, is emblematic of the Trump Administration’s focus on transparency and rooting out government inefficiencies. “Under this administration, VA is committed to becoming the most transparent organization in government,” Shulkin said. “Together with the Accountability bill the president signed into law recently, this additional step will continue to shine a light on the actions we’re taking to reform the culture at VA. Veterans and taxpayers have a right to know what we’re doing to hold our employees accountable and make our personnel actions transparent. Posting this information online for all to see, and updating it weekly, will do just that.”
The disciplinary postings will be featured on the VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection’s website, will be updated on a weekly basis, and will include all actions dating back to January 20th, 2017.
Currently, the postings will reflect all demotions, terminations, and suspensions greater than 14 days, though the included categories could expand. The postings will also redact personal information, including the employees’ names, but will include the employee’s position, region, the date the action was taken, and the nature of the action.
The first edition of the report is now available online and includes nearly 750 disciplinary actions that have occurred since January, including 526 dismissals, a pace significantly below the rate of VA dismissals in Fiscal Year 2016.
In addition to publicly posting disciplinary action, Shulkin announced a new policy under which cash settlements in excess of $5,000 must be approved by an Under Secretary, Assistant Secretary or equivalent senior-level official within the organization in which the dispute occurs.