VA chief to Congress: You can’t fire your way to excellence

Robert McDonald
FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2015 file photo, Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald speaks to reporters outside VA Headquarters in Washington. McDonald is pushing back against claims by members of Congress that the VA has not fired enough people to turn around the scandal-plagued agency. McDonald told a Senate panel Thursday,Jan. 21, 2016, that “you can’t fire your way to excellence.” Instead, he said the VA must inspire its 340,000 workers to do better while recruiting and hiring new employees who understand the agency’s mission. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald is pushing back against claims by members of Congress that the VA has not fired enough people to turn around the scandal-plagued agency.

McDonald told a Senate panel Thursday that “you can’t fire your way to excellence.”

Instead, McDonald says the VA must inspire its 340,000 workers to do better while recruiting new employees who understand the agency’s mission.

McDonald says the VA increased the number of health care appointments by more 1.2 million last year and completed 96 percent of them within 30 days.

He says the VA has fired 2,600 people since he took office 18 months ago and has disciplined 28 employees at 10 VA sites. Those actions are in response to the wait-time scandal that cost Eric Shinseki the top job.

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