This should be interesting. Our new Fearless Leader has announced town hall meetings but they are to be conducted at all VA Regional Offices and VHA Medical facilities. They are slated to be done by the end of September yet we have not been told where these Come to Jesus Meetings will be held or when. Nothing like a good Kumbaya party after the dust settles.
Will there be just one at, say, Sioux Falls VARO/VHA in South Dakota or numerous ones across the fruited plain? Will there be any press releases to announce the dates? So much promise and so much opaqueness concerns many of us when we hear once again that VA has finally heard our plaints and feels our pain.
Goin’ Places that I’ve Never Been
Judging from the content of the newest Congressional compact with Veterans, the opinion on the street is “Just got screwed again.” sung to the tune of Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again. Any new legislation that resurrects VA bonuses again in light of all the recent abuse of said bonuses is a fool’s bargain. VA has been unmasked numerous times for their perfidy, unreliable statements and statistics, and lastly, cheating on something as mundane as scheduling appointments for us. The punishment? Why, more bonuses at the same rate and quantity as before. I suppose they’ll actually have to prove they earn them this time around.
The VA’s Bonus Army
Let’s compare the old to the new.
Old bonus program: up to $360 million in bonuses for simply doing your job, or, in the event that you couldn’t accomplish the job with the available number of doctors/ appointment slots, inducing your subordinates (who, incidentally did NOT get that bonus) into fudging the numbers so as to qualify you for the bonus.
New bonus program: No more than $360 million in bonuses but document it all regardless of whether you can make it work; don’t get caught cooking the books; collect bonus in December for making an effort even if nothing changes. Reinstitute one week, all-expenses-paid Human Resources getaways to Orlando for training/implementation of all the new changes. Find a new Patton look-alike, improved Karaoke machines with higher-quality teleprompters and enforce media blackout of festivities.
Getting Rid of the Miscreants Who Lied and Cheated
How about firing the incompetent, sleazy upper management types for their misfeasance. Yeppers. That’s covered as well. All McDonald and his minions have to do is prove the secret waiting lists were wantonly created to ensure bonuses. That’s a pretty fancy trip wire that everyone can see and avoid. There will be more fingerpointing than an incest-plagued family reunion. VISN managers have secretly been instructed to use the Shinseki/Obama technique and bemoan the fact that “Nobody told us”. Their minions in high places likewise have been instructed to stare stoically at the ceiling and repeat ” Mea culpas are long overdue but we had to wait for the OIG investigation to play out. But for my ignorance, I singlehandedly could have prevented this. And since I was in the dark due to the intransigence of those below me, I should not be demoted or have to return my prior bonuses. In the future, I promise to punish those beneath me and move on.”
The Lowly, Well-Intentioned Whistleblowers
How about protecting the whistleblowers? That was a pseudo-concern addressed during the lead up to the Senate vote on it. The consensus was they should not be dunned for coming forward. In the future, if anyone tries to bring attention to “systemic problems”, they will be rewarded with nice corner offices in the basements of ROs and VAMCs to guard the archived paper files. These are much sought-after jobs and there will be fierce competition for them. Understandably, promotions in this
dead end exciting new field are few and far between due to the scarcity of positions. Whistleblowers are advised to check openings before opening their pie holes to ensure transitional compatibility.
Guidance on Who to Fire?
Firing well-trained higher echelon personnel is messy and to be avoided. VA has a lot of time invested in these goldbricks and where possible, retraining and indoctrination are the preferred path. In the case of the small fry who were caught holding the bag, wholesale dismissal shall be the panacea. GS-7s to GS-10s are renowned for acting on their own and coming up with nefarious schemes to line their own pockets -even if they never benefit with bonuses. VA’s OIG has determined this time and time again and it is statistically documented. These personnel will not be considered essential and should be considered first and foremost for scapegoat material.
And that’s the gist of the new bill. They promise we won’t get fooled again.
P.S. VA Secretary McDonald announced this morning that Ms. Sharon Helman, former VISN director of the Phoenix VAMC has been chosen to replace retiring VISN Director Victor Maninguez of the Manila, Philippines VAMC. She is reputedly taking Rosetta Stone courses in Spanish which explains her low profile for the last three months.