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house Bill H.R. 27

Should VA Employees' Misconduct Stay on Their Permanent Records?

Argument in favor

This bill would ensure that the misconducts made by VA employees are not forgotten. After recent controversies, it’s important that mistakes made by employees of the agency be well-documented.

operaman's Opinion
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01/04/2017
Absolutely! All Federal Employees records should be permanent, not just VA employees. Keeps the bad employees from applying to the many Departments and Services offered by our humongous Government. Let's not make bad behavior a transferable benefit.
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SherryTX's Opinion
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01/04/2017
Disciplinary action stays in one's personnel file forever. It's called accountability.
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Mart's Opinion
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01/04/2017
It's a discipline record! They violated either department regulations or federal law, that's permanent.
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Argument opposed

The VA is certainly in need of more oversight. But reprimands and admonishments are given for stuff like showing up late. The real problem of the VA is in its structure and leadership, not just some guy or gal showing up late a few too many times.

Tamara's Opinion
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01/04/2017
I have spent 2 decades in HR so I have some experience in this area. If an employee is given a disciplinary action, corrects the behavior and does not incur disciplinary action for any other issue then it is reasonable to remove it after a period of time. Most corporations have progressive discipline policies that can be culled for best practices. This isn't rocket science. Certain infractions, such as sexual harassment, can and should be retained in the permanent record. Alternatively, if someone has relatively minor infractions such as tardiness that are corrected, I see no reason that should follow them throughout their career.
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Alicia's Opinion
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01/04/2017
This bill is a waste of time and does not address the root of the problem. Attention needs to be paid to what is going on at the top (Robert McDonald) including upper management. The current 2-3 year record should allow plenty of time for capable managers to terminate unfit employees rather then transferring them to other branches (as is currently being done). As for Robert McDonald, who claimed that 60 employees were terminated for involvement in time log tampering when the reality was less then 5, is disturbing. Shouldn't the Secretary of the VA know what is going on in the department he is overseeing? Perhaps he did know the truth, but was attempting to cover up a poorly managed situation? Either way, this is not acceptable leadership. Our Veterans deserve better.
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Steve's Opinion
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01/08/2017
This is too harsh. No one should be penalized for a non-fireable offense forever.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
  • The house Passed January 3rd, 2017
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Economic Opportunity
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 27?

This bill seeks to increase accountability at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) by changing the way it manages disciplinary records. Under current law, admonishments stay in an employees’ file for two years, reprimands for three. This bill would keep the reprimand or admonishment on file as long as an employee works for the VA.

The VA, like many institutions, maintains a structure for disciplining its employees. Two of the less-severe punishments (not necessarily firing or suspensions) are admonishments (for “minor misconduct”) and reprimands (for “misconduct”). They’re essentially letters to the employee telling them how they messed up.

Impact

VA employees, managers at the VA, veterans and service members, taxpayers.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 27

A CBO estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) also introduced this bill in the 114th Congress. It was passed unanimously by the House, but was never considered by the Senate before the session concluded.

Costello explained why the current VA disciplinary structure is failing to produce better outcomes for veterans who need healthcare:

"Part of the systemic problems with the Department of Veterans' Affairs stem from the fact that current policy prevents the keeping of complete employee files and does not allow the at-fault employees to be tracked or held accountable. It is critical to maintain a complete record of a poor performer in order to better understand an employee as long as they are with the Department. We must hold employees accountable for their actions and that is why I am proud to author this legislation."


Media:

(Photo Credit: Flickr user petukhov.anton

AKA

Ensuring VA Employee Accountability Act

Official Title

To amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to retain a copy of any reprimand or admonishment received by an employee of the Department in the permanent record of the employee.

    Absolutely! All Federal Employees records should be permanent, not just VA employees. Keeps the bad employees from applying to the many Departments and Services offered by our humongous Government. Let's not make bad behavior a transferable benefit.
    Like (36)
    Follow
    Share
    I have spent 2 decades in HR so I have some experience in this area. If an employee is given a disciplinary action, corrects the behavior and does not incur disciplinary action for any other issue then it is reasonable to remove it after a period of time. Most corporations have progressive discipline policies that can be culled for best practices. This isn't rocket science. Certain infractions, such as sexual harassment, can and should be retained in the permanent record. Alternatively, if someone has relatively minor infractions such as tardiness that are corrected, I see no reason that should follow them throughout their career.
    Like (91)
    Follow
    Share
    This bill is a waste of time and does not address the root of the problem. Attention needs to be paid to what is going on at the top (Robert McDonald) including upper management. The current 2-3 year record should allow plenty of time for capable managers to terminate unfit employees rather then transferring them to other branches (as is currently being done). As for Robert McDonald, who claimed that 60 employees were terminated for involvement in time log tampering when the reality was less then 5, is disturbing. Shouldn't the Secretary of the VA know what is going on in the department he is overseeing? Perhaps he did know the truth, but was attempting to cover up a poorly managed situation? Either way, this is not acceptable leadership. Our Veterans deserve better.
    Like (24)
    Follow
    Share
    Disciplinary action stays in one's personnel file forever. It's called accountability.
    Like (19)
    Follow
    Share
    This is too harsh. No one should be penalized for a non-fireable offense forever.
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    It's a discipline record! They violated either department regulations or federal law, that's permanent.
    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
    "Part of the systemic problems with the Department of Veterans' Affairs stem from the fact that current policy prevents the keeping of complete employee files and does not allow the at-fault employees to be tracked or held accountable. It is critical to maintain a complete record of a poor performer in order to better understand an employee as long as they are with the Department. We must hold employees accountable for their actions...." I agree. The VA has serious problems and this policy is a contributing factor. Employees exhibiting negative behaviors need to have consequences and currently these problems are being swept under the rug. I'm sure that correcting this policy will have positive results for our veterans.
    Like (8)
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    This is draconian and unnecessary. They're people too. If we don't let people make mistakes they'll be too terrified of being human to be effective.
    Like (5)
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    This is public service. Everything remains permanent as long as they remain an employee. How or if this gets forwarded to a future employer needs to be determined.
    Like (5)
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    Responsible and accountable starts with the individual at all levels of placement within an organization.
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    The bill needs to better clarify what constitutes an admonishment; otherwise it appears that this bill serves as a kind of vendetta on the VA employees for perceived organizational failures.
    Like (4)
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    Once you commit a violation of a federal procedure, it should remain forever in your records. Why should you receive a promotion just because the time frame expired. Past practice predicts future work habit.
    Like (4)
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    If someone commits misconduct why shouldn't it be permanent?!
    Like (4)
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    There are serious infractions that should remain on the employee record permanently. However, minor infractions should phase out over a period of time. There is so much more to this issue than just keeping or removing records.
    Like (4)
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    VA employees have the strictest rules of any employee. I was the product of retaliation after filing a grievance against a very inappropriate supervisor. I went from Nurse of the Year and outstanding performance evals to under investigation, suspended, removal of my scholarship and low score on my evaluation in less than 6 months. I am now back to outstanding eval. This behavior happens all the time. Zero tolerance for retaliation is horse crap! Innocent VA employees like me will be further punished for trying to make things right.
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    If this law applied to ALL members of the Legislative branch the Executive branch, and the Judicial branch, I would support it. Integrity and accountability should start at the top.
    Like (4)
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    Any misdoings by Va employees should stay on their records
    Like (3)
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    There must be greater accountability for federal employees' performance of their duties while maintaining protection from partisan political retribution. This should apply to all federal employees, not just the VA.
    Like (3)
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    People should have an opportunity to grow and improve. If a reprimand is on the permanent record it will not allow the person to ever leave the past behind them.
    Like (3)
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    Every federal employee should be held accountable for their misconduct not just VA employees. Misconduct should be permanent on every federal employee's record.
    Like (3)
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