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VA Deputy Sec Says Appeal Decision Saving VA Execs Position Is ‘Unenforceable’

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson said the appeal board process saving the job of VA executive Linda Weiss is totally unenforceable.

“Today, an Administrative Judge of the Merit Systems Protection Board belatedly published his full decision on my removal of Albany VA Medical Center Director Linda Weiss,” Gibson said in a statement Tuesday evening. “The same judge issued an incomplete decision on February 5, 2016 that purported to reverse my removal action without explanation. I believe today’s decision, which states the judge’s reasoning for the earlier decision, is not only wrong for Veterans, but also fails to meet the 21-day time limit for appeals decisions mandated by the Senior Executive accountability provision of the Choice Act.”

The legal merits of Gibson’s counterargument are unclear, but as far as he is concerned, the VA views the Merit Systems Protection Board’s (MSPB) decision as unenforceable. This means the board’s decision “does not entitle Ms. Weiss to return to VA employment.”

Even before the MSPB released the full decision, Gibson said he would not allow Weiss to return to her previous position as head of the Albany medical center, nor would she be allowed to assume directorship at any other medical center. His latest statement reveals an intent to prohibit her from any VA employment, whatsoever, which is somewhat of a shocking move given how lax the department has been in holding its questionable executives to account.

Whether the VA will actually try and oppose the MSPB is unclear, although Gibson certainly hints at the possibility. He especially expressed outrage at the fact that while the judge agreed Weiss failed in her duty to protect veterans and remove a nursing assistant from her position, firing was viewed by the administrative judge as simply too harsh and “unreasonable” a punishment. “I could not disagree more,” Gibson said.

Not only did Weiss fail to remove the nursing assistant, but she rated that assistant as “Excellent” in a performance review.

Officials at the VA are currently brainstorming strategies to remove all executives of the right to appeal before the MSPB, which would allow the department to remove bad eggs without having to deal with the long appeal process.

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