Issues

93 Percent of Veterans Wants Increased Accountability at VA

Obama has promised to veto VA Accountability Act

VA Secretary Robert McDonald
VA Secretary Robert McDonald / AP

Significant majorities of the nation’s veterans said they want VA reform that addresses the lack of accountability of employees, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The information comes one day after a Democratic senator blocked a vote in the Senate on legislation that would allow the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to hold VA employees accountable for poor performance or misconduct.

Ninety-one percent of veterans polled believe it is important to reform veterans’ healthcare in the "near future," according to a survey of veterans and active duty military commissioned by Concerned Veterans for America released Wednesday.

Moreover, 93 percent of veterans deem it important to increase the accountability of VA employees, including giving leaders the power to fire poor performing employees.

Republican lawmakers have sought to boost accountability at the VA, the House passing a bill in July called the VA Accountability Act of 2015 that would give VA Secretary Robert McDonald the power to demote or fire a VA employee because of performance or misconduct. However, McDonald has refused to support the legislation and President Obama has threatened to veto it.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) brought the bipartisan legislation to the floor of the Senate on Tuesday for immediate consideration, but an up-or-down vote was blocked by a Democratic colleague, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.).

Obama has labeled the bill "counterproductive" and argued that it would "have a significant impact on VA’s ability to retain and recruit qualified professionals and may result in a loss of qualified and capable staff to other government agencies or the private sector."

According to the polling released Wednesday, veterans overwhelmingly name government bureaucracy and lack of accountability as the biggest sources of problems at the VA.

Even after the VA’s fake waitlist scandal that prompted the resignation of then-Secretary Eric Shinseki and led to the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act, poor care and waste have continued at the government agency and its network of facilities.

A VA-commissioned independent assessment released last month indicated that the network of VA health systems is plagued by "crises in leadership and culture" that would require a "system-wide reworking" of the Veterans Health Administration.