Gabbard Backed Legislation to Strengthen VA Leadership Passes House
Washington, DC—Bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Mike Bost (IL-12) to address the growing problem of VA medical centers operating without permanent directors unanimously passed the House today as an amendment to VA reform legislation. The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
“The mission of the VA is to take care of our veterans, and to do so they need strong, accountable leaders who are committed to that mission. In Hawaiʻi and many other states, veterans have gone without a permanent VA health center director for more than a year. Our bipartisan legislation that passed today will direct the VA Secretary to prioritize hiring qualified, accountable leaders to serve our veterans and their families,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
Background: More than 20 VA medical centers currently lack a permanent director, including some that have not been staffed by a permanent director in almost two years. In lieu of a permanent director, these facilities have been managed by interim directors who may only serve in that capacity for a short time, with the average tenure of an interim director being 120 days. The revolving door of directors serving in an acting capacity undoubtedly hinders the ability to engage in long-term planning and other functions necessary to improve service delivery to our veterans.
The VA Health Center Management Stability and Improvement Act, which passed as an amendment to H.R.1367 today, would:
- Require the Secretary of the VA to develop and submit to Congress a plan to hire highly-qualified medical directors for each medical center that lacks a permanent director within 120 days of enactment
- Identify possible impediments to staffing facilities with permanent directors; and
- Assess the possibility of promoting and training qualified candidates from within the VA for promotion to Senior Executive Service positions.