Amendments to S.1094 – Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017

Introduction:

     This series of amendments is based on information given by VA and related whistleblowers for the purpose of correcting problems with the Act which still allow for the persecution and victimization of whistleblowers within the VA. Rather than fix the problems, which would be far simpler, an attitude still exists that anyone who tries to fix the system is in some way betraying the Administration, and deserves to be punished, rather than listened to. And the mechanism that allows such victimization, is in the very Accountability Act designed to take it out. These amendments will make the changes in law necessary for a VA that can be reformed from within, rather than have the original reforms reversed. As always, enforcement will be critical. But hopefully when this becomes law, it will be in a condition where the intent to protect the whistleblowers will be paramount, and their research, information, discoveries, recommendations, and documentation, will serve the cause of reforms, and not used as evidence against them.

Section I. Moving the Office of General Counsel out of the Veterans Administration, and into the Justice Department.

     1. Settlement authority should be removed from the Director and Regional Counsel.

     2. Regional Counsel’s continue to violate the cannons of ethical behavior when they refuse to advise their clients of settlement offers over 5K. The current policy is that any offer over 5K must be forwarded and approved by the under secretary of health for VA. Regional Counsels don’t want higher authority to know so they kill all settlements negotiations at 5K. MSPB ALJ should be inquiring as to see written evidence that settlement offers and counter offers are being sent to higher authority. Since settlement negotiations are confidential they play games with appellants by not negotiating in good faith and ALJ should be aware of these shenanigans by opposing regional counsel’s when they order settlement negotiations. If this is not done then why order settlement talks.

 

Section II. Create a Whistleblower Inspector General.

 

Section III. All matters pertaining to whistleblowers previously handled by Administrative Courts and Judges, shall be moved to the Federal Court Judiciary. This includes the Merit System Protection Board.

 

Section IV. All supervisory, managerial and senior management up to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, shall be personally liable for their actions regarding whistleblowers, and shall come under the RICO statutes should an organized criminal effort, or criminally negligent pattern, be discovered.

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One comment

  1. Sean C. Higgins says:

    1. Settlement authority should be removed from the Director and Regional Counsel.
    2. Regional Counsel’s continue to violate the cannons of ethical behavior when they refuse to advise their clients of settlement offers over 5K. The current policy is that any offer over 5K must be forwarded and approved by the under secretary of health for VA. Regional Counsels don’t want higher authority to know so they kill all settlements negotiations at 5K. MSPB ALJ should be inquiring as to see written evidence that settlement offers and counter offers are being sent to higher authority. Since settlement negotiations are confidential they play games with appellants by not negotiating in good faith and ALJ should be aware of these shenanigans by opposing regional counsel’s when they order settlement negotiations. If this is not done then why order settlement talks.

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