FMA VOICES CONCERN ABOUT PROPOSED LIMITS ON VA EMPLOYEE APPEAL RIGHTS - June 7, 2017
The Federal Managers Association (FMA) applauds the efforts of Congress to better look after our nation's veterans. However, as federal managers, with members from more than 40 agencies across government, we are deeply concerned with any chipping away of the disciplinary and appeals process currently afforded federal employees.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act (S. 1094), which was recently approved by the Senate, would set several concerning precedents in regard to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). First, the bill enables the department's secretary to fire, suspend or demote an employee with only 15 days' notice. Current statute requires a minimum of 30 days' notice from the date the proposal to remove or demote is issued to the employee until its effective date of action. The bill would then allow employees to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) in an accelerated timeframe with the MSPB having to issue a decision on the case within 180 days. FMA opposes any erosion a federal employees' right to due process. This legislation creates a slippery slope and is one step toward a return to the spoils system where the civil service becomes politicized.
We are, however, not blind to the very real concerns and problems that need to be addressed at the VA. FMA understands and supports the intentions of this bill: Our nation's veterans deserve world-class healthcare as a token of our enduring appreciation for their sacrifice on behalf of our nation.
Many FMA members are veterans themselves, and we firmly believe misconduct and poor performance must be addressed. FMA has a strong record of extending support to veterans, including conceiving legislation that led to the creation of disabled veteran leave for new hires in the federal government. We argue the current disciplinary system, as written in statute, is not broken - it simply is not always used as intended.
The Federal Managers Association stands ready to work with Congress and the President to identify more effective and cost-efficient ways to ensure our veterans receive the treatment they have more than earned. However, reducing due process rights from all VA employees, including more than 100,000 of these same veterans who now work for the Veterans Administration, does not achieve the intended goal of what is at heart a valiant effort to properly care for some of our most valued citizens.