Kyndra Rotunda, ex-Army JAG and currently Professor of Military & International Law and Executive Director of the Military and Veterans Law Institute at Chapman University, had some comments in her Wall Street Journal op-ed [emphasis in original].
When Congress enacted the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 in the wake of revelations about bureaucratic dysfunction at the Veterans Affairs Department, the plan was to reduce wait times at VA hospitals, give veterans access to outside health care and allow the VA to quickly terminate problem employees.
How is the VA doing? For starters, government statistics show that hospital wait times are 50% longer than two years ago.
The law allows the firing of top-level VA officials with less notice and fewer appellate rights than government employees enjoy. The fired VA worker must appeal within seven days of the discipline; administrative judges must hear and decide the case within 21 days, or the department’s discipline stands; judges cannot mitigate penalties; and decisions are final.
Over the past month alone, judges at the Merit Systems Protection Board, which hears appeals by federal employees, sided with three VA officials who challenged their disciplining. The MSPB reinstated all three.
Time to get out the axe.
But then Rotunda strayed.
[W]hat’s the harm in allowing judges to mitigate penalties?
In response to which, I ask, “What’s the harm in requiring these administrative judges simply to uphold or set aside the penalty?” Either the person did the deed, or he did not. The penalty is not for a third party to decide; the employer—even this wholly mendacious VA of an employer—is the one to determine whether the person’s services are needed any further.
Veteranos Administratio delende est.