Arlington, Va. – In reaction to VA’s release of Secretary McDonald’s “MyVA” restructuring plan, Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, issued the following statements:
On the need for cultural change at the VA:
“Secretary McDonald has spent the last few days talking to news outlets about his plans to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs, but so far that’s all it has been—a lot of talk. We are pleased that he recognizes the need for increased accountability and a greater focus on customer service, but his actions have yet to match his words. The bottom line is that VA reform efforts will never succeed if the people who created the scandal are left in place to implement them.”
On the “MyVA” restructuring:
“If the size of a bureaucratic restructuring is measured by the number of Powerpoint slides it takes to explain it (41), then perhaps Secretary McDonald is correct that this is the largest overhaul in VA’s history. But if measured by boldness, innovation, and the effect it will likely have on shaking up VA’s calcified and corrupt culture, it is underwhelming at best.”
“Focusing a unresponsive bureaucracy on customer service requires more than a Chief Customer Service Officer—and the new bureaucracy that comes with that office. Quality customer service requires real accountability, organizational incentives for delivering timely and quality care, and above all, genuine competition for customers. Today’s VA has very little of any of these attributes, which is why—despite adding yet another layer of bureaucracy—this plan will not dramatically improve VA’s customer service.”
“Of the thousands of VA employees who have ‘violated the department’s values,’ only one senior executive to date has been fired and others are being given the chance to retire with full benefits before any disciplinary action is taken. It’s nice to hear that Secretary McDonald has a list of 35 employees he would like to remove and another thousand or so under investigation, but unless and until swift discipline of rogue executives—and real protections for those who report them—comes to fruition, cultural change will never happen.”
On Phoenix VA and Sharon Helman:
“According to CVA’s Helman Clock, as of Veterans Day, the former director of the scandal-plagued Phoenix VA, Sharon Helman, has been on paid administrative leave for 194 days. It’s been reported that as many as 40 veterans died while awaiting care on secret lists created under her watch, and that’s just the beginning. If Sharon Helman worked for a private sector hospital, she’d likely be in jail, but as a VA employee, she gets a paid vacation. This is more than just a waste of taxpayer dollars; it is an outrage and a slap in the face to every single American veteran.”
On the VA’s Idea House portal:
“Secretary McDonald boasts that he has over 2,000 employee submissions to his ‘Idea House’ portal for ways to improve the VA. Considering that the VA has over 300,000 employees, I’m not sure that’s a number to brag about. But asking VA employees about what’s wrong with the agency only addresses half the equation; as employees aren’t the ones waiting for care. If he really wanted to improve VA for the veteran, (as CVA has done with our Fixing Veterans Health Care Taskforce) Secretary McDonald would open up a portal for veterans and VA employees to submit their ideas. I would bet he’d hear from more than six thousandth of a percent.”
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Concerned Veterans for America is a non-partisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization that advocates for policies that will preserve the freedom and liberty we and our families so proudly fought and sacrificed to defend.