May 17 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Angus King (I-ME) unanimously passed the Senate. The VA Senior Executive Accountability (SEA) Act of 2018 would strengthen accountability of senior executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
There are numerous instances within the VA where Senior Executive Service (SES) employees used their leadership positions as leverage to be reassigned to another position for their own personal gain, or were reassigned, rather than disciplined, for poor performance. Following exposure of this practice, the VA halted their Appraised Value Offer (AVO) program, a program used to move senior executives that was often costly to taxpayers. Despite its past scandals, the VA has recently reinstated the AVO program.
The VA Senior Executive Accountability Act will improve transparency by requiring the VA to inform Congress about where senior executives are being moved. Further, this legislation would require the secretary to personally approve of a reassignment of the VA’s approximately 350 SES employees and submit a semiannual report to Congress detailing the reason as to why the employees were reassigned and the associated costs.
“Senior VA executives should not be using their positions for personal gain nor should the VA be using reassignments in place of disciplinary action or firing senior executives who have acted improperly,” said Senator Tillis. “The VA Senior Executive Accountability Act is a bipartisan effort to address these problems by improving transparency and accountability within the VA and ensuring our veterans are being provided the best people to give them the care they need and deserve.” 
“VA executives are tasked with a sacred responsibility: caring for the veterans who have sacrificed so much for our nation,” said Senator King. “Our bipartisan bill will boost transparency and ensure accountability at the VA’s highest levels, and seeks to improve the overall quality of care that the VA provides to America’s veterans.”
Companion legislation, H.R. 2772, was originally introduced by Congressman Scott Taylor (R-VA-02) and unanimously passed the House of Representatives on July 28, 2017. The Senate passed H.R. 2772 with an amendment by Senators Tillis and King, and will now head back to the House of Representatives to be voted on with the amendment.