POTUS takes executive action, creates accountability office at Veterans Affairs

President Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States (Archive)

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday creating an accountability office at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The office’s mission is to improve accountability and protect whistleblowers. In his remarks, the president called the move, a “bold step forward.”

Trump, who made improving veterans’ care a prominent issue during the campaign, said the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection makes clear, “that we will never, ever tolerate substandard care for our great veterans.”

VA Secretary David Shulkin said the office will also help identify “barriers” that make it difficult for the department to fire or reassign bad managers or employees.

Fox News reports another function of the office is to help shield whistleblowers from retaliation.

The president said the time is up for those who fail to provide adequate care for veterans.

“With the creation of this office, we are sending a strong message: Those who fail our veterans will be held, for the first time, accountable,” Trump said at the VA before creating the office through executive action. “And at the same time, we will reward and retain the many VA employees who do a fantastic job, of which we have many.”

The order also directs a national examination at the VA to see if its structure is properly focused on veterans’ needs as well as operating at peak efficiency.

According to Military Times, the new task force will look at VA’s overall national footprint and whether current services are duplicating efforts. They’re going to be taking a particular focus on the headquarters staffs, with an eye toward reducing the number of department employees who don’t interact directly with veterans.

“We’re not anticipating adding any new staff, but instead using our existing staff in a more efficient way,” VA Secretary David Shulkin told reporters.

Military Times reports one veterans group is cautiously optimistic about the new direction.

“This new office will only be effective if it is coupled with strong accountability legislation … identifying bad VA employees won’t do any good if you still can’t fire them,” said Dan Caldwell, policy director at Concerned Veterans for America.

 

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Author

  • Jim Verchio is a staff writer for Popular Military. As a retired Air Force Public Affairs craftsman, Jim has served at all levels. From staff writer to Editor-In-Chief, he has more than 30 years experience covering military topics in print and broadcast from the CONUS to Afghanistan. He is also a two time recipient of the DoD’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for journalism excellence.

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