SEA Responds to Remarks Made By Speaker of the House, Congressman Miller and Senator Rubio Regarding VA Employee Accountability

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Senior Executives Association (SEA), the professional association that represents career Senior Executives across government, including at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), feels compelled to respond to the inaccurate statements regarding VA employees during a press conference held by the Speaker of the House, Representative Miller, and Senator Rubio regarding VA accountability.

The press conference was ostensibly held to discuss legislation that would increase accountability at the VA. While SEA agrees with the speakers that our veterans deserve access to world-class care, the Association is deeply concerned that the legislation they are championing would do the exact opposite by allowing Congress and the media to attack and politicize the VA work force, weakening the very system of employees who have dedicated their careers to helping American's veterans and who, on the whole, do great work for them.

Clearly there are problems to be addressed at VA, from backlogs to preventable patient deaths. The VA should aim to ensure that no one has to wait for care and that there are no preventable patient deaths, however, these are issues with which every hospital in this country deals. But the legislation in question does not address these issues. In fact, it does a disservice to veterans by distracting from the complex solutions that are needed to get to the root of the problems.

While it may sound reasonable and appropriate to say the bill would give the Secretary a tool from the private sector to hold employees accountable, what the sponsors of the legislation failed to mention is that the Secretary already has, and uses, tools to hold employees accountable. Last year alone, the VA removed over 3,000 employees, including several Senior Executives. Just because it doesn't make headlines doesn't mean it did not occur. The sponsors of the legislation also failed to mention that the Secretary has told the House Committee on Veterans Affairs that he does not need or want the legislation.

SEA President Carol Bonosaro said, "SEA strongly believes that problem employees should be held accountable and supports real efforts to identify policies that strengthen employee accountability systems across government. This legislation does not achieve the goal of accountability and instead is a quick fix sound-bite that does not address the very real issues of backlogs and access to care. SEA calls on the Speaker and other supporters of this legislation to end this attack on federal employees and to instead focus on the goal that we all support – ensuring the best care. Our veterans have earned that and deserve more than sound-bite policies."

The Senior Executives Association (SEA) is a professional association representing Senior Executive Service members and other career federal executives. Founded in 1980, SEA's goals are: to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and productivity of the federal government; to advance the professionalism and advocate the interests of career federal executives; and to enhance public recognition of their contributions. The SEA Professional Development League (PDL) is a nonprofit educational organization committed to advancing the professionalism of career federal executives through the sponsorship of training, recognition, and research activities.