VA Regional Office Managers Still Get Bonuses Despite Poor Ratings.Managers of VA Regional Offices throughout the U.S. continue to receive large executive bonuses even with poor marks on recent VA OIG Inspection Report, according to recent testimony before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Over the past few years, VA Regional Offices scored quite poorly for not addressing errors within the disability claims process. Some RO’s were so bad that 1 out of 3 claims would have errors impacting the claim directly. Overall, almost 25 percent of all disability claims decisions were reached with errors.
This is a good sign to system architects and others trying to keep the cost of war to a minimum, and a sign that everything is business as usual in the VA even with the changes from the Obama Administration.
In 2006, VA executives received as much as $33,000 in bonuses despite an increasing backlog, which was the maximum achievable level. But at that time, according to Gordon Mansfield, the leaders were “good, honest, hardworking leaders.” These leaders where thought to be individuals who would “excel at running the department’s health-car, benefits, and cemetery programs.” This was under the Bush Administration.
Now 5 years later, the leaders receiving the bonuses are failing their own standards, according to the VA OIG. Flatly, politicians and these lifelong bureaucrats appear to think veterans’ benefits are a joke. The American Federation of Government Employees implicitly agrees. Last month, the AFGE reiterated the complaint addressed years ago. “Despite the Congressional reproach, the agency has continued to shower executives with lavish bonuses.” And nothing has been done after countless reprimands from Congress and other agencies to successfully limit this practice.
The AFGE member representing the federal workers responsible for reviewing disability claims offered additional critiques of management during his testimony last week. In addition to these issues, testimony was directed toward the overall breakdown within the Veterans Benefits Administration. Laws are being disregarded that require claims representatives to become certified. Veterans are being passed over during the promotion process from front line employment into management positions. Managers continue to care more about processing claims quickly rather than correctly.
Push pause, wait 10 years and then push play again. These problems will persist until the American people have had enough and are willing to stand alongside their veteran brethren.