Pink slips part of program

In the private sector, the penalty for not performing sometimes is losing one’s job. Lying about it is an almost certain route to a pink slip.

But in government management circles, failure to accomplish objectives too often results in pay bonuses and promotions. That is what happened at the Department of Veterans Affairs, even as the agency was letting down tens of thousands of men and women who have served our country.

During the weekend, negotiators in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives agreed to a bill to improve the VA. It will cost $17 billion – remarkably close to the $17.6 billion VA officials wanted – but that is a complaint for another day.

One small provision of the bill may be more important than any spending items. If enacted, it would give the VA director authority to fire senior executives immediately.

Clearly, in view of reporting that shows some VA managers below the senior level harmed veterans, then lied about it, lawmakers should extend firing authority.

Then, the VA director should be instructed to use his newfound power immediately against every agency functionary found to have provided less than acceptable service to veterans. Only by cleaning out the rat’s nest that is the VA bureaucracy will lasting, meaningful reform be achieved.