Acting VA Secy Sloan Gibson Announces Policy to Protect Whistleblowers

Acting VA Secy Sloan Gibson Announces Policy to Protect Whistleblowers

Sloan Gibson, Acting Secretary of Veteran Affairs (VA), released a statement on whistelblowers stating that "we depend on the service of VA employees and leaders who place the interests of Veterans above and beyond self-interest, and who live by VA's core values of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence."

Gibson, who issued the statement following a letter to the President from the Office of Special Counsel on the subject of whistleblowers, said he respects and welcomes "the letter and the insights from the Office of Special Counsel. I am deeply disappointed not only in the substantiation of allegations raised by whistleblowers, but also in the failures within VA to take whistleblower complaints seriously."

Gibson said he has directed a comprehensive review of all aspects of the Office of Medical Inspector's operation to be completed within 14 days, including a review of process, structure, resourcing and how recommendations are tracked and reviewed. He had earlier directed all of the VA's Medical Center and Health Care System Directors to conduct monthly in-person reviews of scheduling processes in every clinic within their jurisdiction "to insure all policies are being followed to deliver Veterans the timely care they have earned."  All of these actions are the result of scandals involving long wait-times and the deaths of several veterans that led to the resignation of Eric Shinseki as head of the organization.

Gibson said he had met with employees at VA Medical Centers across the country and "reminded all 341,000 of our employees that we must protect whistleblowers and create workplace environments that enable full participation of employees. Intimidation or retaliation– not just against whistleblowers, but against any employee who raises a hand to identify a problem, make a suggestion or report what may be a violation in law, policy or our core values — is absolutely unacceptable. I will not tolerate it in our organization."

On June 25, in announcing the selection of Dr.Carolyn Clancy as interim Under Secretary for Health in the Departrment of Veterans Affairs,  Gibson said "Dr. Clancy will be charged with the Department's top priority — getting Veterans off of wait lists and in to see their doctors."