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Obama Picks Ex-P&G Head to Lead Veterans Affairs

President Obama has picked an Army veteran and retired chief executive of Proctor & Gamble to succeed retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki as head of the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs.

Obama was expected to make the formal announcement Monday that he was nominating Robert A. "Bob" McDonald to take over as VA Secretary of an agency reeling from scandals over waiting lists and botched care.

The choice of a corporate executive reflected the White House focus on management failures at the VA, which has more than 300,000 employees and 9 million veterans enrolled for care.

Last Friday, Ron Nabors, the White House deputy Chief of Staff, submitted a lengthy report to Obama citing faulty record keeping, a "corrosive culture," and "significant and chronic system failures" at the VA.

Earlier this month, a nationwide audit by the VA showed that 57,000 veterans had been waiting more than 90 days for an appointment and an additional 64,000 who asked for medical care never put on VA waiting lists.

"This data shows the extent of the system problems we face," acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said in calling for immediate action.

If McDonald is confirmed by the Senate, Gibson was expected to stay on at the VA as his deputy. McDonald and Gibson were classmates at West Point.

Following graduation in 1975, McDonald served five years in the active duty Army and made captain. He served with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChystal, who served with McDonald in the 82nd Airborne, said the nominee's "business acumen, coupled with his dedication and love of our nation's military and veteran community, make him a truly great choice for the tough challenges we have at VA," the Associated Press reported.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman, said he expected to meet with McDonald later this week to get his views on VA issues.

"The VA needs significantly improved transparency and accountability and it needs an increased number of doctors, nurses and other medical staff so that all eligible veterans get high-quality health care in a timely manner," Sanders said.

 McDonald joined Proctor & Gamble in 1980 and served as brand manager for Tide detergent and in other posts before becoming chief operating officer in 2007 and chairman of the board in 2010.   Under his leadership, P&G’s stock price rose by about one-third. He retired from P&G last year.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@monster.com

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