Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act

The President recently signed The Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 into law. Friend-of-the-firm Bill Aramony attended the recent bill signing at the White House.  Bill has over 30 years representing employees and veterans, and he has a distinguished history of advocating for veterans.  A number of the Act’s changes are noted below.

The bill amends Title 38 U.S.C. to improve the accountability of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. For Senior Executive discipline and removal, the bill allows advance notice, the ability to be represented by an attorney or other representative, and the ability to grieve the decision.

It gives 15 business days to process a disciplinary action, inclusive of 7 business days for the executive to respond to the proposed action. The grievance procedure is 21 days. The bill does not provide for review of SES discipline by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Non-SES Employees may be removed, demoted, or suspended for reasons of performance or misconduct.

The advanced notice and response period of 15 business days, with 7 days allowed for employee’s response to a proposal to remove, demote, or suspend.

MSPB appeal time is 10 business days (it was 30 calendar days). The burden of proof on the agency is “substantial evidence.” Before the agency’s burden was preponderance of evidence.

MSPB cannot mitigate VA chosen penalties. The bill supersedes any conflicting provisions of collective bargaining agreement(s).

The bill mandates that the VA institute whistleblower protections and a position of assistant secretary for accountability and whistleblower protection. The bill allows the VA Secretary to reduce the pension of a VA employee convicted of a felony that influenced job performance.

The bill also allows the VA Secretary to recoup any bonus or award paid to any employee engaged in poor performance or misconduct discovered after giving the bonus.

If you have any questions about the Act or about VA and other employment-related issues, contact the office today. Or contact Bill Aramony at 703-299-8496.

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