White House review of Veterans Administration finds ‘corrosive culture’

By Reuters
Friday, June 27, 2014 19:06 EDT
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By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House said on Friday that a review of the scandal-plagued Veterans Administration found significant and chronic failures across the board at the agency and that a corrosive culture has led to personnel problems.

The findings emerged after President Barack Obama met with acting Veterans Secretary Sloan Gibson and the White House official assigned to investigate the agency, Rob Nabors.

Widespread evidence of delays in military veterans getting healthcare at the Veterans Administration’s facilities prompted Obama to accept the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki late in May. He has yet to nominate a new secretary.

The White House review, which was conducted by Nabors, said the agency’s 14-day scheduling standard for new patients to receive care is arbitrary, ill-defined and misunderstood. It may have led to “inappropriate actions” by officials to meet the goal, the review found.

The review was particularly critical in discussing the Veterans Health Administration, which manages the VA medical structure.

This part of the VA is marked by a lack of responsiveness and an inability to effectively manage or communicate to employees or veterans, and needs to be restructured and reformed, the review found.

“A corrosive culture has led to personnel problems across the department that are seriously impacting morale, and by extension, the timeliness of healthcare,” the report found.

Obama has asked Nabors to remain on assignment at the VA temporarily to help the department.

The White House said a series of reforms have been started to ease the pressure with 135,000 veterans contacted, 182,000 additional appointments scheduled and more schedulers trained to handle the workload.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Sandra Maler)

[Image: A pileup of claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs facility in Roanoke, Virginia, is shown in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Government Handout]

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