The Department of Veterans Affairs this week proposed disciplinary actions for six of its medical employees, including the directors of the Rocky Mountain network and the Cheyenne, Wyo., VA clinic, for manipulating scheduling data to hide treatment delays.
“Certain supervisors in these facilities were found to have personally manipulated data, instructed their subordinates to manipulate data, and withheld accurate information from their superiors,” the VA said in an announcement Tuesday.
The agency said it proposed removing two of the employees from federal service altogether. It did not specify its actions against the other workers or name them.
The Office of Special Counsel, an agency that protects federal-employee whistleblowers, has substantiated claims related to scheduling schemes at the VA clinic in Fort Collins, Colo. The agency said last month that it is examining reports that two schedulers at the facility were removed from their positions for refusing to “zero out” wait times to cover up delays.
Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said in a statement on Wednesday that OSC is “encouraged” by the VA’s disciplinary actions.
“OSC believes that holding officials accountable is an important step in changing the VA’s culture to become more welcoming to whistleblowers,” Lerner said. “These issues would not have come to light if not for the whistleblowers’ courageous actions.”
Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said in the statement that the agency will not tolerate manipulation of data and that the inappropriate actions do not reflect the VA’s values.
“Part of earning back the trust is holding people accountable when there is documented evidence of willful misconduct and management negligence,” Gibson said. “Those who have not delivered results honestly have and will be held accountable.”