Board reverses firing of another VA executive

posted at 8:01 am on February 9, 2016 by Jazz Shaw

This is a problem which has long since grown past the flaws of a single person, one regional office, or even the entirety of the Veterans Affairs Department itself. For the third time in a matter of weeks, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) has met and reversed the order to terminate the employment of a VA employee who was taken to task for falling down on the job. This time the candidate in question was from a facility in New York. (Government Executive)

The Merit Systems Protection Board on Friday overturned the department’s decision in January to fire Linda Weiss, former director of the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center in upstate New York. VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson, who has defended his recent personnel decisions related to senior executives, said Friday that he would not return Weiss to her job in Albany, or any other position where she would be responsible for patient safety. Weiss was put on administrative leave in November before being fired last month. She appealed her removal to MSPB in January.

Gibson said he removed Weiss from her job because she did not do enough to ensure the safety of vets seeking care at the Albany medical center, despite complaints from patients.

It’s worth noting that this was a rare case where Sloan Gibson actually took action and fired somebody. (This will come as a shock to many of you who are more familiar with the VA as a department where the firing of anyone is somewhat less common than the sighting of unicorns at the water cooler.) The subject in question is Linda Weiss, formerly in charge of one of their medical centers in Albany, New York. She was let go back in November for what seemed rather obvious causes. (Albany Times Union)

In the last year, two male nurses at Stratton were accused in separate incidents of stealing and using powerful drugs intended for patients. One of them was charged with federal crimes, and the second nurse, who was found incoherent with a used syringe nearby, was let go from his job but not charged criminally even though it was the second incident involving his illicit drug use. Another nurse remained on duty despite complaints from co-workers that he was sleeping on duty, including in the bed of a patient who had died the night before. Also, a former nurse alleges that patients in a geriatric unit with “treatable” conditions were instead being given morphine, hastening their deaths. A hospital spokesperson denied the allegation.

There have been obvious, perhaps fatal problems at the VA for some time now, but as I alluded to above there may be a second and even more serious wound in the body of this beast. When the first disciplinary reversal took place we looked into the origins and function of the MSPB and what role they played in this process. Here’s a reminder of what they do.

The Merit Systems Protection Board is an independent, quasi-judicial agency in the Executive branch that serves as the guardian of Federal merit systems…

The Board assumed the employee appeals function of the Civil Service Commission and was given new responsibilities to perform merit systems studies and to review the significant actions of OPM. The CSRA also created the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) which investigates allegations of prohibited personnel practices, prosecutes violators of civil service rules and regulations, and enforces the Hatch Act. Although originally established as an office of the Board, the OSC now functions independently as a prosecutor of cases before the Board.

They’ve now gone three for three on executives who were either demoted or dismissed for egregious violations, restoring each of them to their perch in defiance of not only common sense, but the directives of the head of the VA. We may be zeroing in on the second half of the problem here. Yes, it took a long time to get the VA leadership to a place where they would actually be willing to punish the corrupt and the incompetent, but that progress is totally negated if there is a toad in the garden which can overrule him at every turn. The MSPB clearly seems to be nothing resembling a fair and impartial actor in this, but rather a tool of the federal employee unions, put in place to ensure that nobody can ever be held accountable and lose their lifetime jobs and generous, taxpayer funded benefits.

If anyone in Congress wants to really solve the problems in the VA, the ongoing examinations need to move beyond the leadership of the department itself. We need to revisit the law which summoned the MSPB into existence and see if it’s time to either severely reform it or do away with it entirely.

LindaWeiss


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

This is why the lazy, corrupt, and incompetent gravitate to government work. You can’t be fired even if your behavior on the job is criminal, so long as you are carrying out Leftist Big Government policy: kill the soldiers because they don’t vote for Obama…

ConstantineXI on February 9, 2016 at 8:04 AM

And Trump thinks he’s going to fire bad people in government? Just like that? It takes a deeper understanding of the civil service and a plan to reform it. “You’re fired” isn’t going to cut the mustard.

rbj on February 9, 2016 at 8:10 AM

And Trump thinks he’s going to fire bad people in government? Just like that? It takes a deeper understanding of the civil service and a plan to reform it. “You’re fired” isn’t going to cut the mustard.

rbj on February 9, 2016 at 8:10 AM

Government unions were allowed by executive order and can be outlawed again by executive order.

Get the unions out of this and you’ll be able to eliminate these kinds of “protect leftists in government boards”

ConstantineXI on February 9, 2016 at 8:13 AM

For the third time in a matter of weeks, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) has met and reversed the order to terminate the employment of a VA employee who was taken to task for falling down on the job.

Point One: The system is rigged in favor of the employees. And this isn’t all to the bad. Remember, the whole point of a civil service is to mitigate the spoils system. Imagine what the VA would look like if a new administration could sweep in and make every job a patronage job.

Point Two: It seems to me that the soap salesman running the VA has been AWOL since he was outed for lying about his military record. It’s time that he be fired.

Happy Nomad on February 9, 2016 at 8:14 AM

TRAMP/CRUISE
…2016…

JugEarsButtHurt on February 9, 2016 at 8:15 AM

Yet another chubby, dumpy , mannish female Obama apparatchik.

This regime is lousy with ‘ em.

Edith Stifle on February 9, 2016 at 8:15 AM

Government unions were allowed by executive order and can be outlawed again by executive order.

Get the unions out of this and you’ll be able to eliminate these kinds of “protect leftists in government boards”

ConstantineXI on February 9, 2016 at 8:13 AM

You do realize that not all government employees are unionized, right? You do realize that senior government officials like the ones in this story are not members of a union, right?

I’m fully against ANY public-sector union (NEA, SEIU, etc.) but the problem here is one of accountability in a system designed to protect the civil servant. This has nothing to do with unions.

Stick to attacking those who don’t like Trump.

Happy Nomad on February 9, 2016 at 8:17 AM

Point One: The system is rigged in favor of the employees. And this isn’t all to the bad. Remember, the whole point of a civil service is to mitigate the spoils system. Imagine what the VA would look like if a new administration could sweep in and make every job a patronage job.

Point Two: It seems to me that the soap salesman running the VA has been AWOL since he was outed for lying about his military record. It’s time that he be fired.

Happy Nomad on February 9, 2016 at 8:14 AM

Get rid of the lavish benefits, especially the retirement golden parachutes, then see who still wants to “serve” in government…

Government service is supposed to be a SACRIFICE that you do for awhile, then go back to a PRODUCTIVE career.

ConstantineXI on February 9, 2016 at 8:17 AM

Maybe if we could start a CITIZENS UNION and have a board to protect our interests as the people who pay the bills.
Of course that’s what Congress is supposed to be doing.

thelastminstrel on February 9, 2016 at 8:19 AM

We need to revisit the law which summoned the MSPB into existence and see if it’s time to either severely reform it or do away with it entirely.

ROFLMAO…Yup, just wait until the GOPe acts on this one Jazzy….waiting…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

NOT. GONNA. HAPPEN.

winston on February 9, 2016 at 8:19 AM

From Wikipedia,

The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is an independent quasi-judicial agency established in 1979 to protect federal merit systems against partisan political and other prohibited personnel practices and to ensure adequate protection for federal employees against abuses by agency management.

Can anyone explain why we (royal we) even allow federal unions when such protection exist. It’s mind boggling. Several of these people have been put back on the job by the time of the debate on Saturday and there was no mention of this outrage. There isn’t anyone in the system ensuring adequate protection of the public from our bloated federal bureaucracy that has any power at all to due anything.

whbates on February 9, 2016 at 8:20 AM

Government unions were allowed by executive order and can be outlawed again by executive order.

Get the unions out of this and you’ll be able to eliminate these kinds of “protect leftists in government boards”

ConstantineXI on February 9, 2016 at 8:13 AM

Except this appears to have nothing to do with a union.

whbates on February 9, 2016 at 8:23 AM

The vets who have died because of these criminal stooges, can their deaths be reversed too?

Bishop on February 9, 2016 at 8:26 AM

Get rid of the lavish benefits, especially the retirement golden parachutes, then see who still wants to “serve” in government…

Government service is supposed to be a SACRIFICE that you do for awhile, then go back to a PRODUCTIVE career.

ConstantineXI on February 9, 2016 at 8:17 AM

Not every government employee is a member of the Senior Executive Service. I’d be very interested in knowing just what some GS-9 working a clerical job thinks about their “golden parachute” and lavish benefits.

Happy Nomad on February 9, 2016 at 8:31 AM

Not every government employee is a member of the Senior Executive Service. I’d be very interested in knowing just what some GS-9 working a clerical job thinks about their “golden parachute” and lavish benefits.

Happy Nomad on February 9, 2016 at 8:31 AM

Everyone who works for the Federal Government makes more money and has better benefits than the taxpayer in the private sector who are forced to pay for them.

It should be the opposite. Federal employees should make LESS than their private sector counterparts and have NO benefits at all that are better. Their retirement program should be socialist security, nothing more.

There should be lots and lots of turnover in Federal agencies…

ConstantineXI on February 9, 2016 at 8:41 AM

Of course that’s what Congress is supposed to be doing.

thelastminstrel on February 9, 2016 at 8:19 AM

Congress can’t even compel a government worker to testify about actions they took as a government representative. How bizarre is that?

whbates on February 9, 2016 at 8:42 AM

Screw up, Move up.

TimBuk3 on February 9, 2016 at 8:43 AM

Bonus Army Redux.

It is time.

hillbillyjim on February 9, 2016 at 8:44 AM

Aw YEAH ! . . . . . . . This is such good news … you don’t know how much sleep I’ve lost the last couple of months, worrying about how those “fired” execs were gonna survive.

listens2glenn on February 9, 2016 at 8:46 AM

It’s not just human, retired military working dogs are left with nothing too.

Bishop on February 9, 2016 at 8:48 AM

And here I am, going back and forth with the VA for medication I’ve ordered and been out of since December.

Mitoch55 on February 9, 2016 at 8:49 AM

There should be lots and lots of turnover in Federal agencies…
.
ConstantineXI on February 9, 2016 at 8:41 AM

.
“Turnover ?” … Hell, I’d rather ABOLISH most Fed agencies.

Don’t get me wrong … “turnover” would be much better than what we’ve had for several years, now.

listens2glenn on February 9, 2016 at 8:50 AM

An Army buddy recently retired after 24 years.He went to work at the VA center in Houston.They hired him and gave him 24 years of seniority going in.He says he is one of the few that shows up sober and not high everyday.
He says it is pathetic.

docflash on February 9, 2016 at 8:52 AM

Government unions were allowed by executive order and can be outlawed again by executive order.

Get the unions out of this and you’ll be able to eliminate these kinds of “protect leftists in government boards”

ConstantineXI on February 9, 2016 at 8:13 AM

Dude it’s way too late. Here’s how it will go down:

Revoke the E.O.

Federal lawsuit to enforce the collective bargaining agreement – a contract that must be honored.

Federal court orders Fed. to abide by the contract – which also includes a renewal provision.

Federal court decides that the ability to contract with the Fed for labor, terms and conditions of employment is a “right” that the Fed cannot infringe. Federal court orders Fed to bargain over renewal of the contract.

Federal court imposes new contract ad infinitum (that means until the end of time).

It’s game over man, it has been for decades.

Lance Corvette on February 9, 2016 at 8:54 AM

An Army buddy recently retired after 24 years.He went to work at the VA center in Houston.They hired him and gave him 24 years of seniority going in.He says he is one of the few that shows up sober and not high everyday.
He says it is pathetic.

docflash on February 9, 2016 at 8:52 AM

Kudos to him.

However, giving someone 24 years of seniority at a new job sounds wrong. There’s a problem right there.

Lance Corvette on February 9, 2016 at 8:56 AM

The vets who have died because of these criminal stooges, can their deaths be reversed too?
.
Bishop on February 9, 2016 at 8:26 AM

.
OuchMarch 18, 2014
.

My husband passed away on February 6th.

He was VA, but was treated at Tampa General due to emergency circumstances… he was in patient for 10 days and incurred $133k in charges. They discharged him without assigning him a visiting nurse for IV antibiotics because he didn’t “qualify” for ObamaCare. They marched him out the door on 1/5/14 and he was dead a month later.

Don’t tell me ObamaCares or I will stab you in the face.

This is a BAD law. Hospitals used to NEVER discharge a patient without the needed follow up care. They are allowed to do this now. Thank you Democrats may you burn in Hades. I hate you all.
.
Key West Reader on March 18, 2014 at 4:48 PM

listens2glenn on February 9, 2016 at 8:56 AM

We don’t need to get rid of the MBSP, we need to get rid of public unions.

BKeyser on February 9, 2016 at 8:58 AM

Or whatever the acronym…

BKeyser on February 9, 2016 at 8:58 AM

The VA system makes no sense. It’s tantamount to deciding to give every vet a free car upon discharge from service by starting your own car company from scratch (including mining your own iron ore) instead of giving him the money to buy one from an existing company.

BierManVA on February 9, 2016 at 9:06 AM

In other news, the Democrat candidates are fighting to see who can lurch further to the left and want to institute more government everything. Yeah, that’ll be great.

Anyone on the right who stays at home this November just isn’t thinking this thing all the way through.

hillbillyjim on February 9, 2016 at 9:06 AM

An apt analogy, BierManVA.

The VA system makes no sense. It’s tantamount to deciding to give every vet a free car upon discharge from service by starting your own car company from scratch (including mining your own iron ore) instead of giving him the money to buy one from an existing company.

BierManVA on February 9, 2016 at 9:06 AM

… and then never firing the incompetents — and giving the vets cars with one wheel, no motor, and sugar in the tank, years overdue.

hillbillyjim on February 9, 2016 at 9:11 AM

Lance Corvette on February 9, 2016 at 8:54 AM

Contract does not apply when the job is being terminated. All employees on EVERY level of the hierarchy must be given a choice between receiving the severance package they contracted for and never being employed again in the federal workforce, or applying for (and likely receiving) an alternative position elsewhere with compensations and perks more in tune with the private market.

Alternatively, an argument for voiding the contract should be made in the court of law. Contracts are often deemed invalid when one side is being blackmailed, is under duress, or operates in bad faith.

Rix on February 9, 2016 at 9:14 AM

And this is what the left thinks US healthcare should be.

When they speak of “universal health care,” they mean they think all patients should be treated like the patients of these people were treated.

GrumpyOldFart on February 9, 2016 at 9:18 AM

If she hadn’t gotten her job back, I do see her as PP executive material in the baby body parts dept. Old, sick vets are just as vulnerable, kinda like the old, sick people on medicare our dear leader wants to give a pain pill. The govt wants to provide for you until they don’t.

Kissmygrits on February 9, 2016 at 9:32 AM

Insert extreme sarcastic Russian joke here.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on February 9, 2016 at 9:34 AM

Every member of this board needs to be identified, impeached, and removed from their position. These decisions show they are not competent to hold that office.

This is the perfect time to do it, because voting against impeachment (in the House) or against conviction (in the Senate) can be used as a club against the elected official in the upcoming campaign. They voted to retain the guys who said allowing veterans to die through negligence is okay.

Remove a few of the administrative bureaucracy that way and this horse pucky would go away.

No Truce With Kings on February 9, 2016 at 9:44 AM

And they’re all women. WTH?

Ward Cleaver on February 9, 2016 at 9:49 AM

Gotta love that single-payer system.

The VA should be used as an iron war club to beat any dope that thinks single-payer is a good idea.

So pretty much every democrat….

Hank_Scorpio on February 9, 2016 at 9:57 AM

During my career I had the honor of being SOG at the final mile of well over one hundred Americans. There were 15-17 soldiers on each detail depending on the rank of the man we were bringing home. Huddled up together away from the family the chatter was always about anything except what we were doing and usually involved the subjects of women or who was soon to rotate out. Then the hearse would roll up the road and we would snap into formation.

That slow step away from the curb, eyes always ahead, the only sound being the low cadence. Approaching ‘the pit’, as we all called it, the six on the casket would have to strain as they held out the casket just a few inches while they maneuvered around the edges of that hole. Nobody dared look into it. It just wasn’t done. With a well practiced center face the heavy box was lowered onto the straps.

There were always words. Usually a chaplain, a preacher, or sometimes a family member. We never listened to the words. Our ears sent the signals to our brains but our brains shut the door on them. It wasn’t until ‘Taps’ came from the bugler that our minds surrendered. The sound of the volleys from the riflemen always shook the gathering. There was also the sound of the snapping of the flag before it was folded twelve times into a neat triangle. Finally the grateful nation declaration and occasionally the tinkle of the expended shell casings being passed over to the family.

On the way back we always drank. Even the bus driver got his share. In the event our final charge had been an officer even the officer would share the flask with us. The next day we would do it all over again.

Today I have to wonder if anyone at the VA goes home and reaches for a flask after spending the day cutting the undertakers checks for those folded flags. It is obvious the politicians don’t.

Limerick on February 9, 2016 at 9:59 AM

Rix on February 9, 2016 at 9:14 AM

Certainly in a sane world your position would be a valid one to take.

My point was more that the deck is stacked against us (packing the judiciary with libs), and has been for years.

Lance Corvette on February 9, 2016 at 9:59 AM

Board members are appointed by POTUS

Jason58 on February 9, 2016 at 10:23 AM

Insert extreme sarcastic Russian joke here.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on February 9, 2016 at 9:34 AM

With all of their experience in living under incompetent, corrupt and self-serving bureaucracies, the Russians have turned such joking into an art.

We are catching up, though….

SubmarineDoc on February 9, 2016 at 10:29 AM

“We’ll reward our friends and punish our enemies”

B.O.

Mimzey on February 9, 2016 at 10:32 AM

The only solution is a government program.

– Nutty lib

darwin on February 9, 2016 at 10:35 AM

ConstantineXI on February 9, 2016 at 8:13 AM

You do realize that not all government employees are unionized, right? You do realize that senior government officials like the ones in this story are not members of a union, right?

I’m fully against ANY public-sector union (NEA, SEIU, etc.) but the problem here is one of accountability in a system designed to protect the civil servant. This has nothing to do with unions.

Stick to attacking those who don’t like Trump.

Happy Nomad on February 9, 2016 at 8:17 AM

Not that simple. Government unions are a cancer, which, as with “unfireable” incompetent teachers, effectively contribute multiple layers of unaccountability even to those not directly members. Mutual back scratching between/among unions and “non-union” execs creates or enables masters of “unaccountability evil”, regardless of the guise under which one or the other appears to receive his/her/its immunity from responsible job execution. Scratch either and find the same fundamentally incompetent corrupt COA basis.

RL on February 9, 2016 at 10:36 AM

You do realize that not all government employees are unionized, right? You do realize that senior government officials like the ones in this story are not members of a union, right?

I’m fully against ANY public-sector union (NEA, SEIU, etc.) but the problem here is one of accountability in a system designed to protect the civil servant. This has nothing to do with unions.

We fund these quasi-independent boards.
Congress can DEfund them.
Congress can reject civil service unions; a president with a spine and b*lls can rescind the executive order that allowed civil service unions in the first place.

That, however would require actual decisive leadership. Not to be confused with Mr Turtle, Senator Fossil McCain, nor Dear Leader and his cabal of careerists.
Best argument for Cruz or Trump that I’ve yet seen.
And among the best arguments against Bush, Kasich, or ANY Democrat in the White House that’s likely to come along. None of them would touch the current civil service cesspool.

orangemtl on February 9, 2016 at 11:06 AM

Lance Corvette on February 9, 2016 at 8:54 AM

You may be right. The solution is to create competition for patients at the VA. Give veterans a voucher for care wherever they choose to go and the VA will either get or the ball or dry up and blow away because they have no patients.

KW64 on February 9, 2016 at 11:08 AM

Lance Corvette on February 9, 2016 at 8:54 AM

My guess is that a determined president would just tell the courts – nope. Not doing it. And if a president had the gumption these returned employees would not enjoy their new assignments. Tell the MSPB or whatever the hell it is to try and force me to put them in their old job.

Zomcon JEM on February 9, 2016 at 12:16 PM

You do realize that not all government employees are unionized, right? You do realize that senior government officials like the ones in this story are not members of a union, right?

I would submit that every federal employee is a member of a union. If you look at the policies and rules concerning government employment, you’ll see little difference between a GS employee and a member of say, the UAW. Hiring, firing, promotion, pay, work rules, seniority, retirement, etc.

And just like unions, skill is not a factor in continued employment. If it were, there would only be about 17 federal employees.

BobMbx on February 9, 2016 at 1:24 PM

The vets who have died because of these criminal stooges, can their deaths be reversed too?

Bishop on February 9, 2016 at 8:26 AM

Those deaths would have been reversed long ago if not for the inaction of the intransigent, do-nothing Republican Congress blocking Obama out of spite.

/s

The Schaef on February 9, 2016 at 2:36 PM

From Wikipedia,

The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is an independent quasi-judicial agency established in 1979 to protect federal merit systems against partisan political and other prohibited personnel practices and to ensure adequate protection for federal employees against abuses by agency management.

Can anyone explain why we (royal we) even allow federal unions when such protection exist. It’s mind boggling. Several of these people have been put back on the job by the time of the debate on Saturday and there was no mention of this outrage. There isn’t anyone in the system ensuring adequate protection of the public from our bloated federal bureaucracy that has any power at all to due anything.

whbates on February 9, 2016 at 8:20 AM

So, protection from partisan political practices is the rationale for the Board. Riiiiiggght.

Board members are appointed by POTUS

Jason58 on February 9, 2016 at 10:23 AM

AesopFan on February 9, 2016 at 3:33 PM

President Trump will do major house cleaning on his first week in the White House.

Amazingoly on February 9, 2016 at 8:31 PM