Woe to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The most apt word for describing the VA these days might be beleaguered. The agency seemingly responds tardily and ineffectively to challenge after challenge, with a progressively questioning public expressing increased doubts concerning its integrity and the acumen of its managers.
Whistleblowing is a case in point.
We last spotlighted the VA in a whistleblower-themed manner in our Hilder & Associates July 26 blog entry. We noted therein the recent influx of “multiple claims by whistleblowers coming forward with fraud allegations that they have been retaliated against rather than listened to” when having the courage to spotlight wrongdoing.
Those complaints are ongoing and replete with buttressing evidence. Equally evident too is the agency’s continued failure to respond in a timely and meaningful way to many whistleblowers, and to sufficiently protect them when they step forward with evidence of fraud.
One whistleblowers’ advocate says that individuals reporting malfeasance risk having their careers “killed by VA leaders who are more interested in covering up wrongdoing than in the lives of veterans.”
That is unquestionably a sharply damning comment, but it proceeds apace with recurrently distressing news regarding the agency’s performance and expressed vows to elevate whistleblower safeguards.
Much of that narrative surrounds the proclamations and actions of the VA’s Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection. Legions of individuals and groups have heavily criticized that department in the near wake of its stated vows “to better protect whistleblowers.”
One of those critics says that it is time to fundamentally “re-think how we deal with whistleblowing at the VA.” We will spotlight her key views and recommendations in our next blog post.