Gabbard Backs Bill to Restore Certainty in VA Leadership

February 17, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC—Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Mike Bost (IL-12) introduced bipartisan legislation to address the growing problem of VA medical centers operating without permanent directors. More than 20 VA medical centers across the country, including the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System in Honolulu, do not have permanent directors. The bill would require the VA Secretary to develop and implement a plan to hire qualified directors for each VA medical center lacking a permanent director.

“Our veterans deserve qualified, accountable leaders at the VA, dedicated to caring for them and their families. As veterans across the country continue to face lengthy wait times and slow turnaround, stable leadership and accountability are more important than ever. In Hawaiʻi, our veterans have gone a year without a permanent VA Director. Veterans in other states across the country have experienced similar leadership voids. The mission of the VA is to take care of our veterans, and to do so they need accountability and leadership they can depend on,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

“No business or organization can successfully operate under a revolving door of short-term leaders – especially not one tasked with caring for America’s heroes,” said Rep. Mike Bost. “At a time when restoring accountability and leadership at the VA is a primary focus, we can’t afford to continue operating in this haphazard way. As a veteran myself, it’s my duty to do my part in providing the stability necessary to ensure our veterans receive the care they deserve.”

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 (H.R.1131) 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.

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