This was originally published as an exclusive to Roll Call.
In a rush to assist poorly served veterans, many in Congress are supporting legislation to quickly fire the "bad apples" at the Department of Veterans Affairs. These lawmakers have the right intention -- improved care for veterans -- but their remedy will do far more harm than good.
There is no question the VA and our government as a whole should deal more effectively and swiftly with employees who are failing in their jobs or violating the public trust, but it is not a choice of either standing with veterans or with VA employees -- a third of whom are veterans themselves -- as stated in a Roll Call commentary by Pete Hegseth, the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America.
Firing feds faster is a poor proxy for the fundamental management reforms needed at the VA. And while rushing to help veterans, the bills proposed in the Senate and House will unfairly stack the deck against all VA employees, guilty or innocent, and have a chilling effect on whistle-blowers who want to expose wrongdoing and who care deeply about those who have served their country. It will also deter much needed top talent from joining the VA and driving the changes needed to improve services.
The measures, (S 1082), (S 1117) and (HR 1994), would allow for the removal of VA employees for virtually any reason and deny them fair notice and adequate time to defend themselves, returning to a period in history when political appointees could fire civil servants at will based on cronyism and political persuasion.
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