Appeal Board Denies VA Attempt To Fire DC VA Medical Center Director

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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An appeal board has denied the Department of Veterans Affairs’ attempt to fire the former director of the D.C. VA medical center.

The Merit Systems Protection Board ordered a stay on Aug. 2 of the firing of Brian Hawkins, who formerly served as D.C. VA medical center director, which means that Hawkins has now returned to work and is again being paid by the VA.

However, the VA noted in a statement that Hawkins has been placed in a purely administrative role at the VA headquarters in Washington, D.C., and will not be in a position related to patient care. Hawkins alleged to the appeal board that he was wrongly terminated July 28.

“No judge who has never run a hospital and never cared for our nation’s Veterans will force me to put an employee back in a position when he allowed the facility to pose potential safety risks to our Veterans,” VA Secretary David Shulkin said in a statement. “Protecting our Veterans is my most important responsibility.”

Notably, the stay order on the VA’s firing was issued a day after the VA inspector general determined that Hawkins had violated privacy policy by sharing sensitive department information on an email used by him and his wife. The report also stated that Hawkins approved “thousands of dollars of ratings-based monetary awards without performance appraisals reflecting justification for the awards.”

Hawkins was initially removed after the inspector general issued a rare preliminary report outlining unsanitary conditions at the facility, in addition to major supply chain problems.

The VA stated that it intends to continue its case against Hawkins using the additional power granted to the department by the VA Accountability Act, which President Donald Trump signed in June.

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