Rep. Kristi Noem today helped pass S.1094, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. The legislation would expand whistleblower protections within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and streamline the process required to fire any VA employee.  With passage in both the House and Senate, the legislation is expected to be signed by President Trump in the coming days.

“Our veterans deserve care that goes above and beyond the call of duty, but in far too many cases, the VA system has failed to deliver the care these men and women have earned,” said Noem. “I have heard from many South Dakota veterans who are happy with their VA experience in the state, but others have told me they’ve waited months – years in extreme cases – to receive care.  That is unacceptable. I’m proud to support this legislation and remain hopeful that it will help us remove bad actors and refocus the VA on delivering quality care to those who have served.”

In the past several years, VA’s arcane civil service rules have hampered the department’s ability to dismiss an employee that engaged in an armed robbery; discipline a VA nurse that participated in a veteran’s surgery while intoxicated; and hold employees accountable for the continued failures to manage several major construction projects.  

The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 would create a new streamlined and efficient process to remove, demote or suspend any VA employee for poor performance or misconduct with a concrete shortened timeline, while still protecting employees’ due process rights, and would provide them with the right to appeal the action. 

It would also provide expanded protections for whistleblowers and would specifically bar the VA from using this removal authority if the employee has an open whistleblower complaint or case with the Office of Special Counsel.

The House has now passed more than 150 bills, more than 30 of which have become law. 

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