Apr 29 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. –During today’s Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing, Senator Tillis called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to completely rethink the way it approaches providing care for veterans and emphasized the need for a long-term enterprise transformation strategy that produces significant and sustainable improvements at VA facilities across the nation. 

Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), praised Tillis’ proposal as “an outstanding template to begin to get a game plan for responding and dealing with the recommendations of the GAO and the IG of the Department.”

Chairman Isakson then asked Tillis to spearhead a collaborative effort with VA executives to rethink the Department’s long-term strategy and identify more efficient practices. Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Interim Undersecretary for Health at the VA, designated Dr. Karen Rasmussen, Director of the VA Management Review Service, to work directly with Senator Tillis. 

Tillis proposed making the effort bipartisan by teaming up with a Democratic Senator on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

“Let’s sit down and come up with a different approach, something that really hasn’t been done on an enterprise basis in my estimation in any area of government,” said Senator Tillis. “Let’s look at each one of these enterprises, put them on a heat map, find out which ones we should be tackling and how we prioritize the other ones, so what we’re doing here at future committee hearings is talking about time to benefit and whether or not you reached your goals.

“I think if we do that then we get away from this discussion that has been going on for years without substantial improvement and get to a truly transformed organization that will include VA facilities, hardworking people in Fayetteville, Durham, Salisbury, Asheville, and all across the country, and include a lot of the best practices that are already embedded at many of these facilities.” 

Last week, Senator Tillis sent VA Secretary Robert McDonald a preliminary series of recommendations to apply best business practices to the VA system to help ensure that veterans are receiving timely and quality care. Tillis’ recommendations include overhauling the VA’s unnecessary layers of bureaucracy, keeping VA clinics open longer, getting new healthcare providers into the VA system faster, and expanding the use of sharing agreements with academic institutions.