Summary: S.533 — 100th Congress (1987-1988)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Indefinitely postponed in Senate (07/12/1988)

(Measure indefinitely postponed in Senate, H.R. 3471 passed in lieu)

Department of Veterans Affairs Act - Redesignates the Veterans Administration as the Department of Veterans Affairs (the Department) within the executive branch of the Government. Places at the head of the Department a Secretary of Veterans Affairs (the Secretary) who shall be appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. Establishes in the Department a Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs, appointed in the same manner to perform such functions as the Secretary shall prescribe.

Establishes in the Department a Chief Medical Director (CMD), who shall be a doctor of medicine, and who shall also be appointed in the same manner. Requires such appointment to be made without regard to political affiliation or qualification and solely on the basis of integrity and ability. Requires the CMD to be the head of, and to be directly responsible to the Secretary for the operation of, the Veterans Health Services and Research Administration (the Administration). Provides that whenever a vacancy in the position occurs or is anticipated, the Secretary shall establish a commission, composed of specified individuals, to recommend individuals to the President for appointment to such position.

Establishes in the Department a Chief Benefits Director (the CBD), appointed in the same manner, who shall be the head of the Veterans Benefits Administration and responsible for its operation. Requires the Secretary, whenever a vacancy in such position occurs or is anticipated, to establish a commission to recommend individuals to the President for appointment to the position.

Establishes in the Department two Deputy Chief Benefits Directors, to be appointed by the Secretary. Requires the responsibilities of one such Deputy Chief Benefits Director to include performance of the responsibilities of the CBD.

Establishes in the Department such number of Assistant Chief Benefits Directors (not to exceed six) as the Secretary shall determine. Requires such Assistants to be appointed by the CBD and perform such functions as the CBD shall prescribe.

Establishes in the Department such number of Assistant Secretaries, not to exceed four, as the Secretary shall determine, who: (1) shall be appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate; and (2) shall perform such functions as the Secretary shall prescribe. Outlines various functions to be assigned to such Assistant Secretaries by the Secretary. Requires the Secretary to designate the Assistant Secretary, whose functions include budgetary and financial functions as the Chief Financial Officer of the Department. Provides a further description of the functions of the Chief Financial Officer.

Requires the President to state the function to be performed by each Assistant Secretary whose confirmation by the Senate is sought by the President. Provides for the continuing performance of functions to be performed by any such Assistant Secretary by an individual currently performing such functions until Senate confirmation of such Assistant Secretary.

Establishes in the Department such number of Deputy Assistant Secretaries, not to exceed 15, as the Secretary may determine. Requires at least two-thirds of such positions to be in the competitive service. Provides that functions performed by the Assistant Secretaries may be performed by the Deputy Assistant Secretaries, with the exception of the following functions, which may only be performed if such Deputy Assistant Secretary is in a competitive service position: (1) personnel management and labor relations; (2) equal opportunity; (3) investigation and adjudication of employment discrimination within the Department; and (4) procurement functions.

Redesignates the current Veterans Administration Department of Medicine and Surgery as the Veterans Health Service and Research Administration (VHSRA) of the Department.

Redesignates the current Department of Veterans' Benefits as the Veterans Benefits Administration of the Department.

Transfers the current Veterans Administration Department of Memorial Affairs to the Veterans Benefits Administration to be administered by the Deputy Chief Benefits Director for Memorial Affairs.

Describes as the primary functions of the Veterans Benefits Administration the administration of: (1) programs not administered by the VHSRA which provide benefits to veterans, their dependents, and their survivors; and (2) memorial affairs programs of the Department.

Establishes in the Department the Office of the General Counsel, who shall be appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. Provides that the General Counsel shall be the chief legal officer of the Department, providing assistance to the Secretary concerning the programs and policies of the Department.

Redesignates the current Office of Inspector General of the Veterans Administration as the Office of Inspector General of the Department. Provides for the staffing and budgeting for such Office.

Outlines administrative procedures for the temporary filling of vacancies in the position of Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Chief Medical Director, Chief Benefits Director, Assistant Secretary, General Counsel, or Inspector General caused by the death or resignation of individuals in such position.

Limits the number of Senior Executive Service positions in the Department authorized to be filled by noncareer appointees and the number of positions authorized to be excepted from the competitive service because of their confidential or policy-determining character.

Prohibits political affiliation or qualification from being taken into account in connection with appointments to or advancement in the Department.

Includes within the definition of an administrative reorganization within the Department the reorganization of a covered central office unit which involves a reduction in any fiscal year in the number of full-time equivalent employees at such unit: (1) by 25 percent or more; or (2) by a percent which, when added to other reductions at such unit during the preceding fiscal year, is 30 percent or more. Defines "central office unit" as a unit which is the permanent duty station for 100 or more employees. Directs the Administrator of Veterans Affairs, no less than 30 days before the date on which the implementation of any reorganization is to begin, to notify the Senate and House Veterans' Affairs Committees of such reorganization. Provides that such reorganization restrictions shall not apply to any reorganizations made necessary as the result of this Act and carried out within six months after the enactment of this Act.

Provides that all references to the current Veterans Administration and its various officers and individuals shall be deemed to be references to the Department of Veterans Affairs and its officials and individuals. Provides for the continuing effect of legal documents, legal proceedings, and property and resources of the current Veterans Administration under the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to prepare and submit to the Congress, within six months after the enactment of this Act, legislation containing technical and conforming amendments reflecting the changes made by this Act.

Directs the Secretary, at the end of the first five fiscal years beginning after the date of enactment of this Act, to report to the Veterans' Committees an estimate of the additional cost of continuing the operation of the Veterans Administration as an independent establishment within the executive branch as if this Act had not been enacted.

Repeals a specified provision of the Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Appropriations Act, 1988 which restricts the authority of the Office of Management and Budget to review testimony given before the Congress relating to salaries and expenses within such Office.

Establishes the National Commission on Executive Organization and Management and outlines the functions of the Commission, including determining: (1) the criteria by which the President and the Congress may evaluate proposals for changes in the structure of the Federal Government; (2) whether the number of executive departments and the organizational structure of each such department is appropriate to ensure effective functioning of such department and whether any such department should be established or reorganized; (3) the most effective and practicable structure of the Executive Office of the President for the oversight of the management of the executive branch; (4) the appropriate management systems and procedures for ensuring efficient, effective, and accountable delivery of public goods and services; and (5) the most effective and practicable structure of the President's cabinet and the most effective and practicable means by which the President may ensure its most effective operation. Directs the Commission, no later than 18 months after it is appointed, to submit to the President, the Senate, and the House of Representatives a report which shall contain a detailed statement of the determinations of the Commission and such recommendations for administrative action and legislation as the Commission considers advisable. Authorizes the President to extend the due date of such report. Provides the Commission with certain powers necessary to carry out its purpose. Limits the total expenses that the Commission may incur in carrying out its responsibility under this Act. Provides that the Commission shall be considered a Federal advisory committee. Terminates such Commission 30 days after submission of its required report.

Directs each of the following officials, within 120 days after the enactment of this Act, to prepare and submit briefing papers concerning their organization's research, reports, and recommendations to the Commission: (1) the Comptroller General of the United States; (2) the Director of the Congressional Research Service; (3) the Director of the Congressional Budget Office; and (4) the Director of the Office of Technology Assessment. Outlines administrative provisions concerning the aid of the Office of Management and Budget in achieving implementation of the recommendations of the Commission. Requires the Director of OMB to submit to the President and the Congress three annual interim reports of actions taken and proposed to be taken to implement the recommendations of the Commission. Requires a final report from such Director to the Congress on such implementation no later than four years after the date on which the Commission's report is submitted. Directs the Comptroller General, for the four-year period beginning on the date on which the Commission terminates, to monitor the implementation of its recommendations and report periodically to the President and the Congress on the actions taken to implement such recommendations.