SEA Statement on VA Compromise Legislation

SEA issued a statement on VA compromise legislation announced on July 28.

SEA appreciates the hard work by Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Sanders and House Chairman Miller and their staff in seeking a solution to many of the issues that have been raised in regard to access to care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Issues such as a lack of sufficient health care providers and facilities to handle a growing veteran population in need of medical care are reaching a critical point. Flexibilities in care options and funding to ensure appropriate staffing levels and facility space as allowed for in this compromise bill are a good first start.

However, SEA continues to take exception to the persistent belief that large numbers of Senior Executives are problem employees who are not held accountable. Senior Executives are routinely held accountable under current statutes. To the extent that some are not, it is not because tools do not exist to hold employees accountable; rather, it appears that they are not being used either because the Senior Executive isn't engaging in misconduct or poor performance, or because political leadership isn't willing to use the tools.

SEA has long supported efforts to hold employees accountable at all levels of government and believes there are ways to strengthen the application of existing tools. However, the policies and tools are already in place – it is ensuring they are understood and used appropriately that should be the focus of reform efforts. The provisions in the compromise legislation are unnecessary at best and optically driven at worst.

SEA looks forward to continuing to work with Congress to ensure a system that fairly holds employees accountable and urges Members of Congress to deal with significant changes to the personnel system separately from the VA policy reforms included in the bill.

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.