The decision to punish the senior leaders that have been accused of misconduct is being taken quite seriously by the Veterans Affairs Department as part of their efforts to make sure that accountability is improved at the department.
The director of region 10, Jack Hetrick, is in danger of losing his job after deputy secretary Sloan Gibson decided to propose that this action was taken. The issue here is that Hetrick just retired and Barbara Temeck has been reassigned to duties pending appropriate administrative action in regards to non-patient care.
According to whistleblower claims from WPCO and Scripps, Temeck has lowered the quality of care in order to save money and made improper prescriptions of controlled substances to Jack Hetrick’s wife. Hetrick was Temeck’s boss at the time.
There was a review of these allegations that was conducted by the Office of Medical Inspector and Office Accountability and no accusations that “directed the referral of veterans for care in the community as a cost-shifting mechanism, resulting in poor quality of care,” were substantiated. However, they did substantiate that “misconduct by both Hetrick and Temeck related to Temeck’s provision of prescriptions and other medical care to members of Hetrick’s family.” The problem is that Temeck did not have a license that allowed him to prescribe this medication and a criminal investigation is a possibility at this point.
“We are committed to sustainable accountability. We will continue to use VA’s statutory authority to hold employees accountable where warranted by the evidence. That is simply the right thing to do for veterans and taxpayers.” Gibson mentioned.
A report stated that Temeck had been receiving two different salaries simultaneously. One was given for the services as a thoracic surgeon and one for being the acting chief of staff. Alleged whistleblower claims mentioned that Temeck was only acting as assistant during operations and never performed any surgeries in the Facility located in Cincinnati.
Jeff Miller pointed out that Hetrick and Temeck “are still collecting taxpayer-funded paychecks,” and this is happening despite their punishment. A statement was made in which the federal personnel system is criticized “Almost every day we are reminded that the federal civil service system is designed to coddle and protect corrupt and incompetent employees, and that the Obama administration’s refusal to address this dysfunctional status quo is doing real harm to veterans and taxpayers.”
Rob Portman, an Ohio senator asked the Veterans Affairs Department to “undertake a swift and independent investigation of these matters, including not only reports of substandard clinical care, but also potential mismanagement and misconduct by the leadership of the hospital and the department officials in charge of overseeing it.”
Wolf Blitzer asked Donald Trump how he plans to pay for the tax cut that he has proposed in order to bring balance to the federal cut. Trump responded with the following words:
“We’re going to make many cuts in business. We’re getting rid of — we’re going to get rid of so many different things. Department of Education Common Core is out. We’re going local. Have to go local. Environmental protection. We waste all of this money. We’re going to bring that back to the states and we’re going to have other many things. We are going to cut many of the agencies, we will balance our budget and we will be dynamic again.”
According to Blitzer, the idea of trying to eliminate the environmental protection agencies and the education department entirely is not going to be helpful enough, but after taking a close look, there is no clear indication that Trump is proposing to get this done. The organizations that Trump is looking to cut still remain a mystery.
When he was pressed in regards to how he was planning to manage to find spending reductions in order to get rid of the federal deficit of $500 billion, he said:
“Waste, fraud and abuse all over the place. Waste, fraud and abuse. You look at what’s happening with Social Security. Look at what’s happening with every agency. Waste, fraud and abuse. We will cut so much, your head will spin.”
It seems like a lot of heads could be spinning just to try to make those numbers add up. Michael Tanner was quick to note that there are $125 billion payments that are labeled as improper and if Trump is going to do any good, he would have to get rid of fraudulent expenses.
A new democratic bill that got introduced last Tuesday is meant to give federal employees a 5.3% raise in their pay by 2017. This legislation has been sponsored by Representative Gerry Connolly and it should be able to provide federal employees with a substantial boost. This is over 3 times higher than the proposal made by Obama.
Gerry Connolly stated that “No other group has been asked to sacrifice more than our federal workforce, who have endured years of pay freezes, increased retirement contributions, no locality pay, sequestration cuts and a government shutdown. This bill is a down payment on trying to help restore some of the losses that have been incurred by our dedicated federal employees, and I hope demonstrates we value their public service.”
He has sponsored a similar bill just last year. That bill was meant to give workers a 3.6% raise during 2016, but they ended up getting the 1.3% that was offered by the Obama administration.
The Federal Adjustment of Income Rates is being sponsored by a total of 32 house members and they include a good number of lawmakers from Maryland and Virginia. These are two locations in which a large number of federal workers reside.
“Our federal employees have faced furloughs and uncertainty because of a government shutdown [in 2013], and they have contributed $138 billion toward deficit reduction. These employees deserve to be compensated fairly for the critical work they perform every day for our country.” Steny Hoyer stated.
The FAIR act has also been endorsed by the Federal/Postal Coalition and the 31organizations that they run. Tony Reardon, the president of the National Treasury Employees union, mentioned that the percentage that is being offered could be blocked if there is no continuous effort to make sure it gets the required attention.
J. David Cox, the president of the American Federation of Government employees mentioned that “Congress must pass this catch-up contribution to keep federal employees from falling further behind”.
Steny Hoyer said that the congress led by the republicans “is not doing its part to meet the challenges of recruiting and training a federal workforce that forms the finest civil service in the world.” He also had the attention of all 350 members of the National Treasury Employees Union when he said “nothing makes me angry like hearing a member on the floor of the House use bureaucrat as an epithet.”
Hoyer said that he and Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority leader consider the 2016 campaign “as the most important election we’ve been involved in” Hoyer mentioned that he gives credit to the Federal Workforce as they helped “bring the economy back with extraordinary resilience. You’ve endured pay freezes, pension changes and furloughs against near-constant background noise of vitriol. Even some of my Democratic colleagues don’t show the appreciation they ought to.”
Hoyer also mentioned that the proposed 1.6% proposed by Obama does not get close enough to close the pay gap. He said “We have to have a pay scale that encourages young people to come in, and then offer the benefits so they stay. And I see no reason why a civilian employee sitting next to a corporal or a sergeant working in the exact same job shouldn’t’ get the exact same pay.” He added “I tell all federal employees to join up, pay up, speak up, and Congress will be responsive.”
Tony Reardon mentioned that the five legislative priorities of NTEU are to protect federal retirement, raise federal pay, safeguard healthcare benefits, proper agency funding and workplace fairness. Reardon also told reporters that “5.3 percent was what realistically made the most sense.” Then he mentioned that even the 1-6% proposal is in danger of not being taken into consideration and it “could be blocked by Congress if we are not vocal and vigilant,”
NTEU is nonpartisan when approaching congress but they have endorsed Hillary Clinton “This election will determine whether we have a supporter or opponent in the White House. Everything about your working life is decided by those elected to office,” he added, citing pay, agency heads, contracting decisions and bargaining rights. “Some candidates would put federal employees on an endangered species list by closing agencies and privatizing our jobs.” He also stated that “Federal employees are not chits to be traded but real human beings who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.” He mentioned that attacks on federal workers “have not let up, and I expect they will get more intense as the election gets closer,”
Reardon was quick of state that “To win, we need to aim high, fight hard and act boldly,” he encouraged members to “fight for the tools and resources and staffing we need to do what the American people need us to do. Make no mistake, we are part of a movement at the heart of the American dream.”
He also added that there are some lawmakers that seem to go after federal workers. He then stated that “We need all NTEU members to push back and expand our presence on Capitol Hill to grow this movement.”
Reardon believes that all Office of Personnel Management has to be held accountable for the data breach issues. He stated that “We need an all-hands-on-desk approach to cybersecurity,” His thoughts on civil service and union organizing are that “We can’t allow Congress to make our nonpartisan workforce into one where anyone can be fired. The workforce must remain free from political interference, but individually not free from political involvement. I don’t know if I’ve seen a chasm as great as it is today. Young people see us fighting and scratching and screaming, then there are benefits cuts, what do you think they. Critics of the federal government transfer that animosity to the people who serve. We must not let those attacks go unanswered.”