Summary: S.1094 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Public Law No: 115-41 (06/23/2017)

Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017

TITLE I--OFFICE OF ACCOUNTABILITY AND WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION

(Sec. 101) This bill establishes in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection which shall advise the VA on all matters relating to accountability, including VA employee accountability, whistle-blower disclosures and related retaliation, and senior executive service (SES) and supervisory misconduct.

The office shall be headed by an Assistant Secretary for Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.

(Sec. 102) The bill revises whistle-blower protections.

The VA shall develop supervisory performance criteria that include whistle-blower protection and provide employees with whistle-blower disclosure and merit system protection training.

TITLE II--ACCOUNTABILITY OF SENIOR EXECUTIVES, SUPERVISORS, AND OTHER EMPLOYEES

(Sec. 201) The bill revises VA authority to remove certain employees or senior executives for reasons of misconduct or performance, including to permit such individuals to be reprimanded or suspended.

(Sec. 202) The VA may remove, demote, or suspend other VA employees based on performance or misconduct. The VA may also remove or suspend such employee from the civil service or demote the employee through a reduction in grade and salary.

A demoted individual may not be placed on administrative leave during an appeal period, and may receive pay only if he or she reports for duty or is approved to use certain leave. A demoted individual who does not report for duty or receive leave approval shall not receive pay or other benefits.

The VA shall issue a final written decision with respect to a removal, demotion, or suspension within 15 business days after the individual has been provided with notice and an evidentiary file.

The bill establishes an expedited appeals process, including the right to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board and the right to appeal a board decision to a U.S. Court of Appeals or to any court of appeals of competent jurisdiction.

The VA may not remove, demote, or suspend an employee who: (1) is seeking corrective action from the Office of Special Counsel based on discrimination without the office's approval, and (2) has made a whistle-blower disclosure to the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection until a final determination of the case has been made.

(Sec. 203) The VA shall reduce the federal annuity of an individual removed from the SES who is convicted of a felony that influenced his or her performance while employed in such position. The VA may reduce the federal annuity of an individual who was convicted of such a felony and was subject to removal or transfer from the SES but who left the VA before final action was taken. The bill provides for appeals to the Office of Personnel Management.

(Sec. 204) The VA may recoup an award, a bonus, or relocation expenses paid to a VA employee under specified circumstances.

(Sec. 206) The bill shortens a supervisor's time to respond to a notice of an adverse action from 14 days to 10 days.

(Sec. 207) The VA may directly appoint qualifying individuals to the positions of Medical Center Director and Director of Veterans Integrated Service Network.

(Sec. 208) The bill revises time periods for adverse action reviews for physicians, dentists, podiatrists, chiropractors, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, and expanded-function dental auxiliaries.

(Sec. 209) The VA shall provide supervisors with periodic training regarding whistle-blower rights, hostile work environments, and managing underperforming employees.