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115th Congress      }                                          {  Report
                          HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session        }                                          {  115-248

======================================================================



 
                 VA SENIOR EXECUTIVE ACCOUNTABILITY ACT

                                _______
                                

 July 24, 2017.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

    Mr. Roe of Tennessee, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2772]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 2772) to amend title 38, United States Code, to 
provide for requirements relating to the reassignment of 
Department of Veterans Affairs senior executive employees, 
having considered the same, report favorably thereon without 
amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     2
Hearings.........................................................     3
Subcommittee Consideration.......................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     3
Committee Votes..................................................     3
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     3
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     3
Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits.............................     4
Committee Cost Estimate..........................................     4
Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Estimate........     4
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................     5
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     5
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     5
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................     5
Statement on Duplication of Federal Programs.....................     5
Disclosure of Directed Rulemaking................................     5
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     5
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill as Reported.............     6

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 2772, ``VA Senior Executive Accountability Act'' or 
the ``SEA Act,'' introduced by Representative Scott Taylor of 
Virginia on June 6, 2017. H.R. 2772 would require the Secretary 
of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to personally 
approve of a reassignment of any VA employee, submit a 
semiannual report to Congress identifying those employees who 
were reassigned and the costs associated with this 
reassignment.

                  Background and Need for Legislation


Section 1. Short title

    This section would create the short title of this bill to 
be the ``VA Senior Executive Accountability Act'' or the ``SEA 
Act''.

Section 2. Semiannual report on reassignment of Department of Veterans 
        Affairs Senior Executive Employees

    In 2015, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of 
Inspector General (VAOIG) published a report that concluded 
that members of VA's Senior Executive Service (SES) used their 
management positions to be reassigned to another position 
within the Department for personal gain.\1\ Following this 
report, and the subsequent Committee investigation, the VA 
suspended indefinitely the use of the Appraised Value Offer 
(AVO) program that the Department used to help sell the homes 
of SES employees when they were reassigned to a new position 
within the Department, often at a significant expense to the 
taxpayer.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, 
``Inappropriate Use of Position and Misuse of Relocation Program and 
Incentives,'' September 28, 2015, https://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-15-
02997-526.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    November 10, 2016, VA quietly reauthorized the AVO program 
with little to no transparency on its use or new implementation 
policy to avoid abuse. The Committee remains concerned about 
the use of the AVO program and believes that there needs to be 
a mechanism put in place to provide transparency of the cost to 
taxpayers of any reassignment of a SES employee. Additionally, 
the Committee is concerned about the perceived practice that VA 
moves senior officials to another location within the 
Department instead of providing true accountability for the 
misconduct or poor performance for members of the SES. For 
example, the Department has reassigned an offending SES 
employee to an administrative position for brief period to only 
reassign the employee to another SES position within the 
Department at a later date. The Committee believes that 
transparency of the reassignment of all SES employees is 
important, which is why this section, therefore, would require 
VA to semiannually report to Congress about where senior 
executives are being moved and to report all expenses 
associated with such moves. In addition, this report would also 
require that the Secretary personally approve and sign off on 
all reassignments of SES employees to ensure that such moves 
are justified and are in the best interests of the Department, 
veterans, and taxpayers.

                                Hearings

    On June 29 2017, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity 
held a legislative hearing on several bills pending before the 
Subcommittee, including H.R. 2772. The following witnesses 
testified:
          The Honorable Elise Stefanik, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 21st district of New York; The 
        Honorable Robert Wittman, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 1st district of Virginia; The 
        Honorable Claudia Tenney, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 22nd district of New York; The 
        Honorable David Cicilline, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 1st district of Rhode Island; The 
        Honorable Scott Taylor, U.S. House of Representatives, 
        2nd district of Virginia; Mr. Curtis L. Coy, Deputy 
        Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity, Veterans 
        Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans 
        Affairs, who was accompanied by Ms. Tia Butler, 
        Executive Director, Corporate Senior Executive 
        Management Office, Human Resources and Administration, 
        U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Mr. Jeffrey 
        London, Director, Loan Guaranty Service, Veterans 
        Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans 
        Affairs; Maj. Gen. Jeffrey E. Phillips, USAR (Ret.), 
        Executive Director, Reserve Officers Association; and 
        Mr. Gabriel Stultz, Legislative Counsel, Paralyzed 
        Veterans of America.
    The following organizations submitted statements for the 
record:
          U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Chamber of 
        Commerce.

                       Subcommittee Consideration

    On July 12, 2017 the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity 
met in an open markup session, a quorum being present, and 
ordered H.R. 2772, favorably forwarded to the full Committee by 
voice vote.

                        Committee Consideration

    On July 19, 2017, the full Committee met in open markup 
session, a quorum being present, and ordered H.R. 2772 be 
reported favorably to the House of Representatives by voice 
vote.

                            Committee Votes

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, no recorded votes were taken on 
amendments or in connection with ordering H.R. 2772 reported 
favorably to the House.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of 
this report.

         Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance 
goals and objectives of H.R. 2772 are to improve transparency 
of the reassignment of members of the SES at VA.

                  Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits

    H.R. 2772 does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives.

                        Committee Cost Estimate

    The Committee adopts as its own the cost estimate on H.R. 
2772, prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974.

     Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the following is the cost estimate 
for H.R. 2772, provided by the Congressional Budget Office 
pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, July 21, 2017.
Hon. Phil Roe, M.D.,
Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2772, the SEA Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Dwayne M. 
Wright.
            Sincerely,
                                             Mark P. Hadley
                                        (For Keith Hall, Director).
    Enclosure.

H.R. 2772--SEA Act

    H.R. 2772 would bar a member of the Senior Executive 
Service (SES) employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs 
(VA) from being reassigned within the agency without written 
approval by the Secretary of VA. H.R. 2772 also would require 
VA to submit semi-annual reports to the Congress on reassigned 
SES employees.
    CBO expects that changing the requirements for reassigning 
SES employees would have no budgetary effect. On the basis of 
information from VA regarding reports of a similar nature, CBO 
estimates that implementing H.R. 2772 would cost less than 
$500,000 over the 2017-2022 period, subject to the availability 
of appropriations.
    Enacting H.R. 2772 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 2772 would not increase 
net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    H.R. 2772 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Dwayne M. 
Wright. The estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, 
Deputy Assistant Director of Budget Analysis.

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates regarding H.R. 2772, prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 423 of the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

                      Advisory Committee Statement

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act would be created by H.R. 
2772.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to Article I, section 8 of the United States 
Constitution, H.R. 2772 is authorized by Congress' power to 
``provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the 
United States.''

                  Applicability to Legislative Branch

    The Committee finds that H.R. 2772 does not relate to the 
terms and conditions of employment or access to public services 
or accommodations within the meaning of section 102(b)(3) of 
the Congressional Accountability Act.

              Statement on Duplication of Federal Programs

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(5) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds that no provision 
of H.R. 2772 establishes or reauthorizes a program of the 
Federal Government known to be duplicative of another Federal 
program, a program that was included in any report from the 
Government Accountability Office to Congress pursuant to 
section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program related to a 
program identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal 
Domestic Assistance.

                   Disclosure of Directed Rulemaking

    Pursuant to section 3(i) of H. Res. 5, 115th Cong. (2017), 
H.R. 2772 contains no direct rule making.

             Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation


Section 1. Short title

    This section cites the short of this bill to be, the ``VA 
Senior Executive Accountability Act'' or the ``SEA Act''.

Section 2. Semiannual reports on reassignment of Department of Veterans 
        Affairs Senior Executive Employees

    This section would amend chapter 7 of title 38, U.S.C., to 
create a new section 719 entitled, ``Sec.  719. Reassignment of 
Senior Executives.''
    Subsection (a) of the new section 719 would require that no 
member of the SES may be reassigned unless the reassignment is 
approved, in writing, by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
    Subsection (b) of the new section 719 would require that no 
later than June 30 and December 31 of each year, the Secretary 
to submit to Congress a report on the reassignment of 
individuals employed in the SES to other locations within the 
Department during the reporting period. Each such report would 
describe the purpose of each such reassignment and the costs 
associated with such reassignment.
    Subsection (c) of the new section 719 would give the term 
``senior executive position'' the definition as provided by 
section 713(g)(3) of title 38, U.S.C.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (new matter is 
printed in italic and existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

                      TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE


PART I--GENERAL PROVISIONS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                          CHAPTER 7--EMPLOYEES


                 SUBCHAPTER I--GENERAL EMPLOYEE MATTERS

Sec.
701. Placement of employees in military installations.
     * * * * * * *
719. Reassignment of senior executives.
719. Reduction of benefits of employees convicted of certain crimes.
721. Recoupment of bonuses or awards paid to employees of Department.
723. Recoupment of relocation expenses paid on behalf of employees of 
          Department.
     * * * * * * *

SUBCHAPTER I--GENERAL EMPLOYEE MATTERS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 719. Reassignment of senior executives

  (a) Approval of Reassignments.--No individual employed in a 
senior executive position at the Department may be reassigned 
to another such position at the Department unless such 
reassignment is approved in writing and signed by the 
Secretary.
  (b) Semiannual Reports Required.--Not later than June 30 and 
December 31 of each year, the Secretary shall submit to 
Congress a report on the reassignment of individuals employed 
in senior executive positions at the Department to other such 
positions at the Department during the period covered by the 
report. Each such report shall describe the purpose of each 
such reassignment and the costs associated with such 
reassignment.
  (c) Senior Executive Position Defined.--In this section, the 
term ``senior executive position'' has the meaning given such 
term in section 713(g)(3) of this title.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *