WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, a combat veteran, today applauded Senate passage of the bipartisan Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017. This legislation, which Senator Ernst cosponsored, gives the VA Secretary the authority to fire senior executive VA employees who are not fulfilling their duties, and offers due process protections for whistleblowers.

“This bipartisan legislation helps protect those who courageously step forward to identify any wrongdoing within the VA, and gives the VA Secretary the appropriate authority to dismiss those who do not have our veterans’ best interests in mind,” said Senator Ernst. “It is critical that we identify and improve issues within the VA so that we can ensure our veterans are being provided the quality and timely care they deserve.”

About the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act:

  • Creates an Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.
  • Requires the VA to train supervisors on the rights of whistleblowers to prevent retaliation and submit a report to congress on morale, administrative action, and effectiveness of discipline on employees.
  • Prohibits the VA secretary from dismissing employees who have filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel to protect whistleblowers from retaliation or undue termination
  • Provides the secretary with the necessary authority to rebuke or fire any senior executive in a 21-day internal department grievance process, and remove, demote, or suspend for longer than 14 days without pay non-senior executive service employees

Additionally, the Senate recently passed Senator Ernst’s Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act, which strengthens penalties for those who retaliate against whistleblowers, adds protections for probationary period employees, and ensures federal employees have a greater knowledge of whistleblower protections.