Text: H.R.1367 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Bill Information (Except Text)

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Referred in Senate (03/21/2017)

 
[Congressional Bills 115th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 1367 Referred in Senate (RFS)]

<DOC>
115th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 1367


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                             March 21, 2017

Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT


 
 To improve the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire 
and retain physicians and other employees of the Department of Veterans 
                    Affairs, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Table of contents.
Sec. 2. Modification to annual determination of staffing shortages in 
                            Veterans Health Administration.
Sec. 3. Executive management fellowship program.
Sec. 4. Accountability of leaders for managing the Department of 
                            Veterans Affairs.
Sec. 5. Modification to veterans preference.
Sec. 6. Reemployment of former employees.
Sec. 7. Recruiting database.
Sec. 8. Human resources academy.
Sec. 9. Promotional opportunities for technical experts.
Sec. 10. Comptroller General study on succession planning.
Sec. 11. Employment of students and recent graduates.
Sec. 12. Exit surveys.
Sec. 13. Encouraging transition of military medical professionals into 
                            employment with Veterans Health 
                            Administration.
Sec. 14. Plan to hire directors of medical centers of Department of 
                            Veterans Affairs.
Sec. 15. Recruitment of physicians in Department of Veterans Affairs.

SEC. 2. MODIFICATION TO ANNUAL DETERMINATION OF STAFFING SHORTAGES IN 
              VETERANS HEALTH ADMINISTRATION.

    Section 7412(a) of title 38, United States Code, is amended--
            (1) by striking ``the five occupations'' and inserting ``at 
        a minimum, the five clinical occupations and the five 
        nonclinical occupations''; and
            (2) by striking ``throughout the Department'' and inserting 
        ``with respect to each medical center of the Department,''.

SEC. 3. EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM.

    (a) Fellowship Program.--Chapter 7 of title 38, United States Code, 
is amended by adding at the end the following new subchapter:

       ``SUBCHAPTER III--EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

``Sec. 741. Executive Management Fellowship Program
    ``(a) Fellowship Program.--There is in the Department an Executive 
Management Fellowship Program. The purpose of the program shall be to 
provide--
            ``(1) eligible employees of the Veterans Benefits 
        Administration and the Veterans Health Administration with 
        training and experience in the private sector; and
            ``(2) eligible employees of a private-sector entity with 
        training and experience in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
    ``(b) Fellowship.--(1) A fellowship provided under this section is 
a 1-year fellowship during which--
            ``(A) with respect to a Department participant, the 
        participant receives training and experience at a private-
        sector entity that is engaged in the administration and 
        delivery of health care or other services similar to the 
        benefits administered by the Secretary; and
            ``(B) with respect to a private-sector participant, the 
        participant receives training and experience at the Veterans 
        Benefits Administration or the Veterans Health Administration.
    ``(2) The Secretary shall enter into such agreements with private-
sector entities as are necessary to carry out this section.
    ``(c) Selection of Recipients.--(1) In August of each year, the 
Secretary shall select--
            ``(A) not fewer than 18 and not more than 30 eligible 
        employees of the Veterans Benefits Administration and the 
        Veterans Health Administration to receive a fellowship under 
        this section; and
            ``(B) not fewer than 18 and not more than 30 eligible 
        employees of private-sector entities to receive a fellowship 
        under this section.
    ``(2) To the extent practicable, the Secretary shall select 
eligible employees under subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (1) 
from among eligible employees who are veterans in a manner that is 
reflective of the demographics of the veteran population of the United 
States and that whenever practicable provides a preference to such 
employees who represent or service rural areas.
    ``(d) Eligible Employees.--For the purposes of this section, an 
eligible employee is--
            ``(1) with respect to an employee of the Veterans Benefits 
        Administration or the Veterans Health Administration, an 
        employee who--
                    ``(A) is compensated at a rate of basic pay not 
                less than the minimum rate of basic pay payable for 
                grade GS-14 of the General Schedule and not more than 
                either the minimum rate of basic pay payable to a 
                member of the Senior Executive Service under section 
                5382 of title 5, United States Code, or the minimum 
                rate of basic pay payable pursuant to chapter 74 of 
                this title, as the case may be;
                    ``(B) enters into an agreement with the Secretary 
                under subsection (e); and
                    ``(C) submits to the Secretary an application 
                containing such information and assurances as the 
                Secretary may require; and
            ``(2) with respect to an employee of a private-sector 
        entity, an employee who--
                    ``(A) is employed in a position whose duties and 
                responsibilities are commensurate with an employee of 
                the Department described in paragraph (1);
                    ``(B) enters into an agreement with the Secretary 
                under subsection (e); and
                    ``(C) submits to the Secretary an application 
                containing such information and assurances as the 
                Secretary may require.
    ``(e) Agreements.--(1) An agreement between the Secretary and a 
Department participant shall be in writing, shall be signed by the 
participant, and shall include the following provisions:
            ``(A) The Secretary's agreement to provide the participant 
        with a fellowship under this section;
            ``(B) The participant's agreement--
                    ``(i) to accept the fellowship;
                    ``(ii) after completion of the fellowship, to serve 
                as a full-time employee in the Veterans Benefits 
                Administration or the Veterans Health Administration 
                for at least 2 years as specified in the agreement; and
                    ``(iii) that, during the 2-year period beginning on 
                the last day of the fellowship, the participant will 
                not accept employment in the same industry as the 
                industry of the private-sector entity at which the 
                participant accepts the fellowship.
            ``(C) A provision that any financial obligation of the 
        United States arising out of an agreement entered into under 
        this subchapter, and any obligation of the participant which is 
        conditioned on such agreement, is contingent upon funds being 
        appropriated.
            ``(D) A statement of the damages to which the United States 
        is entitled under this subchapter for the participant's breach 
        of the agreement.
            ``(E) Such other terms as the Secretary determines are 
        required to be included in the agreement.
    ``(2) An agreement between the Secretary and a private-sector 
participant shall be in writing, shall be signed by the participant, 
and shall include the following provisions:
            ``(A) The Secretary's agreement to provide the participant 
        with a fellowship under this section.
            ``(B) The participant's agreement to accept the fellowship.
            ``(C) Such other terms as the Secretary determines are 
        required to be included in the agreement.
    ``(f) Treatment of Recipients.--(1) A Department participant shall 
be considered an employee of the Department for all purposes, including 
for purposes of receiving a salary and benefits, and shall remain 
eligible for all promotion and incentive programs otherwise available 
to such an employee.
    ``(2) A private-sector participant shall be considered an employee 
of the private-sector entity that employs the participant for all 
purposes, including for purposes of receiving a salary and benefits, 
and during the fellowship shall be treated as a contractor of the 
Department.
    ``(g) Reports.--Not later than 60 days after completing a 
fellowship under this section, a recipient of the fellowship shall 
submit to the Secretary a report on the fellowship. Each such report 
shall describe the duties of the recipient during the fellowship and 
any recommendations of the recipient for the application by the 
Secretary of industry processes, technologies, and best practices. Not 
later than 7 days after receiving each such report, the Secretary shall 
submit to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and House 
of Representatives such report without change.
    ``(h) Definitions.--In this section:
            ``(1) The term `Department participant' means an employee 
        of the Veterans Benefits Administration or the Veterans Health 
        Administration who is participating in the fellowship under 
        this section.
            ``(2) The term `private-sector entity' includes an entity 
        operating under a public-private partnership.
            ``(3) The term `private-sector participant' means an 
        employee of a private-sector entity who is participating in the 
        fellowship under this section.''.
    (b) Deadline for Implementation.--Not later than 1 year after the 
date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
shall implement the Executive Management Fellowship Program required 
under section 741 of title 38, United States Code, as added by 
subsection (a).
    (c) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
chapter 7 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the 
end the following new items:

       ``subchapter iii--executive management fellowship program

``741. Executive Management Fellowship Program.''.

SEC. 4. ACCOUNTABILITY OF LEADERS FOR MANAGING THE DEPARTMENT OF 
              VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    (a) In General.--Chapter 7 of title 38, United States Code, is 
amended by inserting after section 717 the following new section:
``Sec. 719. Annual performance plan for political appointees
    ``(a) In General.--The Secretary shall conduct an annual 
performance plan for each political appointee of the Department that is 
similar to the annual performance plan conducted for an employee of the 
Department who is appointed as a career appointee (as that term is 
defined in section 3132(a)(4) of title 5) within the Senior Executive 
Service at the Department.
    ``(b) Elements of Plan.--Each annual performance plan conducted 
under subsection (a) with respect to a political appointee of the 
Department shall include an assessment of whether the appointee is 
meeting the following goals:
            ``(1) Recruiting, selecting, and retaining well-qualified 
        individuals for employment at the Department.
            ``(2) Engaging and motivating employees.
            ``(3) Training and developing employees and preparing those 
        employees for future leadership roles within the Department.
            ``(4) Holding each employee of the Department that is a 
        manager accountable for addressing issues relating to 
        performance, in particular issues relating to the performance 
        of employees that report to the manager.
    ``(c) Definition of Political Appointee.--In this section, the term 
`political appointee' means an employee of the Department who holds--
            ``(1) a position which has been excepted from the 
        competitive service by reason of its confidential, policy-
        determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character; or
            ``(2) a position in the Senior Executive Service as a 
        noncareer appointee (as such term is defined in section 3132(a) 
        of title 5).''.
    (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
chapter 7 of such title is amended by inserting after the item relating 
to section 717 the following new item:

``719. Annual performance plan for political appointees.''.

SEC. 5. MODIFICATION TO VETERANS PREFERENCE.

    (a) Active Duty Requirement.--Section 2108(1)(B) and (D) of title 
5, United States Code, are amended by striking ``consecutive'' in each 
instance it appears and inserting ``cumulative''.
    (b) Expansion of Eligibility of Retired Veterans.--Section 2108(4) 
of title 5, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
            ``(4) `preference eligible' includes a retired member of 
        the armed forces; and''.

SEC. 6. REEMPLOYMENT OF FORMER EMPLOYEES.

    (a) In General.--Notwithstanding sections 3309 through 3318 of 
title 5, United States Code, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs may 
noncompetitively appoint a qualified former career or career 
conditional employee to any position within the competitive service at 
the Department of Veterans Affairs that is one grade or equivalent 
higher than the grade or equivalent of the position at the Department 
most recently occupied by the employee.
    (b) Limitation.--The Secretary may not appoint a qualified former 
employee to a position that is more than one grade (or equivalent) 
higher than the position at the Department most recently occupied by 
the employee.
    (c) Definition of Qualified Former Employee.--For purposes of this 
section, the term ``qualified former employee'' means any individual 
who--
            (1) formerly occupied any career or career conditional 
        position at the Department of Veterans Affairs within 2 years 
        before applying for reemployment at the Department;
            (2) voluntarily left such position, or was subject to a 
        reduction in force, and had a satisfactory performance record 
        while occupying such position; and
            (3) since leaving such position has maintained licensing 
        requirements, related to the position, if any, and gained 
        skill, knowledge, or other factors related to the position.

SEC. 7. RECRUITING DATABASE.

    (a) Establishment.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall 
establish a single database that lists--
            (1) each vacant position in the Department of Veterans 
        Affairs that the Secretary determines is critical to the 
        mission of the Department, difficult to fill, or both; and
            (2) each vacant position in the Department of Veterans 
        Affairs for a mental health professional.
    (b) Qualified Applicant.--If the Secretary determines that an 
applicant for a vacant position listed in the database established 
under subsection (a) is qualified for such position but does not select 
the applicant for such position, the Secretary, at the election of the 
applicant, may consider the applicant for other similar vacant 
positions listed in the database for which the applicant is qualified.
    (c) Prolonged Vacancies.--If the Secretary does not fill a vacant 
position listed in the database established under subsection (a) after 
a period determined appropriate by the Secretary, the Secretary--
            (1) may ensure that applicants described in subsection (b) 
        are considered for such position; and
            (2) may use the database established under subsection (a) 
        to assist in filling such position.
    (d) Report.--Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment 
of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report on the use 
and efficacy of the database established under subsection (a).

SEC. 8. HUMAN RESOURCES ACADEMY.

    (a) In General.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall provide to 
human resources professionals of the Veterans Health Administration of 
the Department of Veterans Affairs training on how to best recruit and 
retain employees of the Veterans Health Administration, including with 
respect to any recruitment and retention matters that are unique to the 
Veterans Health Administration pursuant to chapter 74 of title 38, 
United States Code, or other provisions of law. The Secretary shall 
provide such training virtually.
    (b) Amount of Training.--The Secretary shall ensure that each human 
resources professional of the Veterans Health Administration receives 
the training described in subsection (a)--
            (1) as soon as practicable after being hired by the 
        Secretary as a human resource professional; and
            (2) annually thereafter.
    (c) Certification.--The Secretary shall require that each human 
resources professional of the Veterans Health Administration, upon the 
completion of the training described in subsection (a), certifies that 
the professional received the training and understands the information 
provided by the training.
    (d) Annual Report.--The Secretary shall submit to the Committees on 
Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Senate an 
annual report on the training described in subsection (a), including 
the cost of providing such training and the number of human resources 
professionals who received such training during the year covered by the 
report.

SEC. 9. PROMOTIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR TECHNICAL EXPERTS.

    Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, 
the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall establish a promotional track 
system for employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs that the 
Secretary determines are technical experts pursuant to regulations 
prescribed by the Secretary for purposes of carrying out this section. 
Such system shall--
            (1) provide any such employee the opportunity to advance 
        within the Department without being required to transition to a 
        management position; and
            (2) for purposes of achieving career advancement--
                    (A) provide for the establishment of new positions 
                within the Department; and
                    (B) notwithstanding any other provision of law, 
                provide for increases in pay for any such employee.

SEC. 10. COMPTROLLER GENERAL STUDY ON SUCCESSION PLANNING.

    (a) Study.--The Comptroller General of the United States shall 
conduct a study on each of the following:
            (1) The succession planning at each medical facility of the 
        Department of Veterans Affairs, including each medical center, 
        domiciliary facility, outpatient clinic, community-based 
        outpatient clinic, and vet center.
            (2) The succession planning at the Veterans Benefits 
        Administration and the National Cemetery Administration of the 
        Department.
    (b) Elements.--The study under subsection (a) shall include, for 
each entity studied under the study, the following:
            (1) A determination of the mission-critical positions 
        within the entity and the vacancy risk of such positions.
            (2) An analysis of the future needs for mission-critical 
        positions and gaps within the existing talent pool of the 
        entity.
            (3) A description of strategies to close skill gaps through 
        the use of training for existing staff, targeted recruitment, 
        and hiring.
            (4) A plan to regularly evaluate progress of staff and 
        update existing succession plans using clear and measurable 
        metrics and benchmarks.
            (5) A demonstration of the capacity of the entity to 
        execute succession plans with successful succession management 
        strategies.
            (6) An analysis of succession planning and hiring as it 
        relates to rural areas.
            (7) Any other matters the Comptroller General determines 
        appropriate.
    (c) Report.--Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment 
of this Act, the Comptroller General shall submit to the Committees on 
Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Senate a 
report containing each study conducted under subsection (a).

SEC. 11. EMPLOYMENT OF STUDENTS AND RECENT GRADUATES.

    (a) In General.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall prescribe 
regulations to allow for excepted service appointments of students and 
recent graduates leading to conversion to career or career conditional 
employment of a student or recent graduate of a qualifying educational 
institution, as defined by the Department.
    (b) Applicability.--The conversion authority described in 
subsection (a) shall be applicable to individuals in good standing 
who--
            (1) are employed in a qualifying internship or fellowship 
        program at the Department;
            (2) are employed in the Department in a volunteer capacity 
        and performing substantive duties comparable to those of 
        individuals in internship or fellowship programs and meet the 
        required number of hours for conversion;
            (3) are employed in the Department under a contract or 
        agreement with an external nonprofit organization and 
        performing substantive duties comparable to those of 
        individuals in internship or fellowship programs;
            (4) have received educational assistance under chapter 33 
        of title 38, United States Code; or
            (5) graduated from a qualifying educational institution, as 
        defined by the Department, and have not reached 30 years of 
        age.
    (c) Uniformity.--For the purposes of subsections (b)(2) and (b)(3), 
hours of work performed by an individual employed shall be considered 
equal to those performed by an individual employed in a qualifying 
internship or fellowship program by the Department.

SEC. 12. EXIT SURVEYS.

    (a) In General.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall develop 
and carry out a standardized exit survey to be voluntarily completed by 
career and noncareer employees and executives of the Department of 
Veterans Affairs who voluntarily separate from the Department. Such 
exit survey shall be developed in consultation with an appropriate non-
Department entity with experience developing such surveys.
    (b) Survey Content.--The survey shall include, at a minimum--
            (1) reasons for leaving the Department;
            (2) efforts made by the supervisor of the employee to 
        retain the individual;
            (3) the extent of job satisfaction and engagement during 
        the employment;
            (4) the intent of employee to either remain employed within 
        the Federal Government or to leave employment with the Federal 
        Government; and
            (5) such other matters as the Secretary determines 
        appropriate.
    (c) Anonymity of Survey Content.--The Secretary shall ensure that 
data collected under subsection (a) is anonymized, including through 
the use of a location that allows for privacy, is not directly visible 
by another employee, and does not require the departing employee to 
input any personally identifiable data.
    (d) Sharing of Survey Data.--The Secretary shall ensure that the 
results of the survey required by subsection (a) are aggregated at the 
Veterans Integrated Service Network level and are shared on an annual 
basis with directors and managers of facilities of the Department and 
the Veterans Integrated Service Networks.
    (e) Report.--Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment 
of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to the 
Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives and the 
Senate a report containing the aggregate results of the exit survey 
under subsection (a) covering the year prior to the report. The report 
shall include--
            (1) an analysis of the most common reasons employees choose 
        to leave the Department;
            (2) steps the Secretary is taking to improve retention, 
        particularly for mission-critical occupations;
            (3) the demographic characteristics of employees choosing 
        to leave the Department;
            (4) any legislative barriers to improving employee 
        retention; and
            (5) the total number of employees who voluntarily separated 
        from the Department and the number and percentage of whom took 
        the exit survey under subsection (a).

SEC. 13. ENCOURAGING TRANSITION OF MILITARY MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS INTO 
              EMPLOYMENT WITH VETERANS HEALTH ADMINISTRATION.

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall establish a program to 
encourage an individual who serves in the Armed Forces with a military 
occupational specialty relating to the provision of health care to seek 
employment with the Veterans Health Administration when the individual 
has been discharged or released from service in the Armed Forces or is 
contemplating separating from such service.

SEC. 14. PLAN TO HIRE DIRECTORS OF MEDICAL CENTERS OF DEPARTMENT OF 
              VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    (a) Plan.--Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment 
of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall develop and 
implement a plan to hire highly qualified directors for each medical 
center of the Department of Veterans Affairs that lacks a permanent 
director as of the date of the plan. The Secretary shall prioritize the 
hiring of such directors for the medical centers that have not had a 
permanent director for the longest periods.
    (b) Matters Included.--The plan developed under subsection (a) 
shall include the following:
            (1) A deadline to hire the directors of the medical centers 
        of the Department as described in such subsection.
            (2) Identification of the possible impediments to such 
        hiring.
            (3) Identification of opportunities to promote and train 
        candidates from within the Department to senior executive 
        positions in the Department, including as directors of medical 
        centers.
    (c) Submission.--Not later than 120 days after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the Committees on 
Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Senate the 
plan developed under subsection (a).
    (d) Semiannual Reports.--Not later than 180 days after the date of 
the enactment of this Act, and each 180-day period thereafter until 
January 1, 2018, the Secretary shall submit to the Committees on 
Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Senate a list 
of each medical center of the Department that lacks a permanent 
director as of the date of the report.

SEC. 15. RECRUITMENT OF PHYSICIANS IN DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    (a) In General.--Section 7402(b)(1) of title 38, United States 
Code, is amended--
            (1) by inserting ``or to be offered a contingent 
        appointment to such position,'' after ``position,''; and
            (2) by striking subparagraph (B) and inserting the 
        following new subparagraph (B):
            ``(B)(i) have completed a residency program satisfactory to 
        the Secretary; or
            ``(ii) with respect to an offer for a contingent 
        appointment upon the completion of a post-graduate training 
        program, complete such a residency program by not later than 2 
        years after the date of such offer; and''.
    (b) Oversight of Graduate Medical Education Programs.--The 
Secretary shall--
            (1) ensure that a recruiter or other similar official of 
        each Veterans Integrated Service Network visits, not less than 
        annually, each allopathic and osteopathic teaching institution 
        with a graduate medical education program within the Network to 
        recruit individuals to be appointed to positions in the 
        Veterans Health Administration; and
            (2) submit to Congress an annual report on the 
        implementation of paragraph (1), including the success of such 
        recruiting efforts.

            Passed the House of Representatives March 17, 2017.

            Attest:

                                                 KAREN L. HAAS,

                                                                 Clerk.