Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald Holds A News Conference

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials may have finally had enough of endless bureaucratic protections that block firings of top agency executives caught in gross misconduct and mismanagement.

In a dramatic about-face, the VA proposed to Congress Tuesday that the department be authorized to strip all senior executives and doctors of Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) appeal rights.

The agency-backed plan would convert VA senior executive service employees (SES) — the federal workforce’s top career bosses — to Title 38 employees, the classification of VA doctors. The plan would then authorize the firing of any Title 38 employee for cause, without appeal rights.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the House Veterans Affairs Committee have incorporated the VA proposal in discussions on a package of legislation now being considered.

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