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Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HUELSKAMP. Mr. Chairman, I won't take quite that long, but I appreciate the opportunity to visit about this amendment. I have always thought bonuses and performance awards to employees should only be given out to those who go above and beyond the expectations laid out in their job description. An end-of-the-year bonus should never be an assumed addition to an employee's paycheck, but the Department of Veterans Affairs apparently takes a very different approach to performance awards for many of their employees, particularly top-level administrators and supervisors.

As a member of the VA Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, we've held multiple hearings on the mismanagement and negligence of Federal employees at the VA. What's worse, many of these individuals have been rewarded for their behavior.

We're all aware of the situation at the VA Pittsburgh health care system and the outbreak of Legionnaires' disease, but how many of us know that the individual in charge received a bonus for the very year that we potentially had five deaths from that outbreak that could have been prevented?

At another hearing conducted by our Oversight Investigations Committee, I recently asked a VA bureaucrat who had missed deadlines and overspent on VA construction projects of over a billion dollars to explain why he deserved $55,000 in bonuses. In our exchange, he had no idea--claimed to have no idea why he received this bonus; and, actually, neither did I, Mr. Chairman.

Earlier this afternoon, much more troubling, we had another VA Oversight hearing where it was revealed that potentially up to 20 million veterans' records have been hacked and perhaps accessed by foreign state actors, and the individual in charge of the security during these last 4 years when this apparently occurred has received over $87,000 in bonuses. This has become a trend within the VA departments, and I believe taxpayer dollars would be better directed towards protecting the sensitive records of our veterans and their dependents and improving veterans' health care options.

I support this amendment. I am glad my colleague from Pennsylvania has offered it.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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