Wenstrup solicits ideas on agency efficiency reforms

U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) last week led 39 of his colleagues in sending a letter to executive branch agency heads asking them to determine whether their agencies would benefit from accountability and efficiency reforms recently adopted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Under the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, enacted in June, the VA Secretary David Shulkin gained new authorities to promptly dismiss underperforming employees and recoup bonuses offered to employees who were found to engage in waste, fraud or abuse. The VA also created a new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.

Wenstrup led the letter with U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA).

“As our country grapples with ever-increasing debt and the fiscal reality of needing to do more with less, promoting government efficiency is imperative,” the letter said.

The letter asked agency heads to offer feedback on whether extending the same authorities to them as granted to Secretary Shulkin would boost “efficiency, effectiveness, and performance” and whether increased “efficiency, morale, and employee accountability” would result. The letter also sought recommendations for improving or expanding the authorities.

“Over the past several years, one need not look further than the Department of Veterans Affairs to find numerous instances of waste, fraud, and malfeasance,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter cited “instances of staff intoxication during surgery to improper bonuses awarded to senior employees — all while our veterans suffered from lengthy wait times for medical appointments and benefit appeals claims” as a spur for collaboration between Congress and President Donald Trump toward adoption of the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act.