Sunday, September 21, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

VA: 80 percent of senior executives got bonuses

By
From page A5 | June 21, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — Nearly 80 percent of senior executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs got performance bonuses last year despite widespread treatment delays and preventable deaths at VA hospitals and clinics, a top official said Friday.

More than 350 VA executives were paid a total of $2.7 million in bonuses last year, said Gina Farrisee, assistant VA secretary for human resources and administration. That amount is down from about $3.4 million in bonuses paid in 2012, Farrisee said.

The totals do not include tens of millions of dollars in bonuses awarded to doctors, dentists and other medical providers throughout the VA’s nearly 900 hospitals and clinics.

Workers at the Phoenix VA Health Care System – where officials have confirmed dozens of patients died while awaiting treatment – received about $3.9 million in bonuses last year, newly released records show. The merit-based bonuses were doled out to about 650 employees, including doctors, nurses, administrators, secretaries and cleaning staff.

Farrisee defended the bonus system, telling the House Veterans Affairs Committee that the VA needs to pay bonuses to keep executives who are paid up to $181,000 per year.

“We are competing in tough labor markets for skilled personnel,” Farrisee said Friday. “To remain competitive in recruiting and retaining the best personnel to serve our veterans, we must rely on tools such as incentives and awards that recognize superior performance.”

Farrisee’s testimony drew sharp rebukes by lawmakers from both parties.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said the VA’s bonus system “is failing veterans.”

Instead of being given for outstanding work, the cash awards are “seen as an entitlement and have become irrelevant to quality work product,” Miller said.

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., said awarding bonuses to 80 percent of executives means that the VA was setting the bar for performance so low that “anybody could step over it. If your metrics are low enough that almost everybody exceeds them, then your metrics are not very high.”

Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H., said the VA suffered from “grade inflation, or what (humorist) Garrison Keillor would refer to as ‘all of the children are above average.’”

Kuster and other lawmakers said they found it hard to believe that 80 percent of senior employees could be viewed as exceeding expectations, given the growing uproar over patients dying while awaiting VA treatment and mounting evidence that workers falsified or omitted appointment schedules to mask frequent, long delays. The resulting election-year firestorm forced VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign three weeks ago.

Miller, the panel’s chairman, noted that in the past four years, none of the VA’s 470 senior executives have received ratings of minimally satisfactory or unsatisfactory, the two lowest ratings on the VA’s five-tier evaluation system. Nearly 80 percent of senior executives were rated as outstanding or exceeding “fully successful,” according to the VA.

“Based on this committee’s investigations, outside independent reports and what we have learned in the last few months, I wholeheartedly disagree with VA’s assessment of its senior staff,” Miller said.

An updated audit released this week showed that about 10 percent of veterans seeking medical care at VA hospitals and clinics have to wait at least 30 days for an appointment. More than 56,000 veterans have had to wait at least three months for initial appointments, the report said, and an additional 46,000 veterans who asked for appointments over the past decade never got them.

The VA has confirmed that dozens of veterans died while awaiting appointments at VA facilities in the Phoenix area, although officials say they can’t tell whether the delays caused any of the deaths.

The VA’s inspector general has said that the bonus system – which has been suspended amid a criminal probe of wrongdoing at the agency – contributed to the fake record-keeping, since employees knew that bonuses for senior managers and hospital directors were based in part on on-time performance.

Some 13 percent of VA schedulers surveyed by auditors reported being told by supervisors to falsify appointment records to make patient waits appear shorter.

The House and Senate have both approved legislation to make it easier to fire senior executives and hospital administrators. The House bill would ban performance bonuses, while the Senate would sharply limit them. Lawmakers say they hope to bring a compromise bill to the president before the July 4 recess.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

County makes recommendations for crude-by-rail

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Hartley House offers look into Vacaville’s past

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1 | Gallery

New toilet paper sizes will wipe me out!

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2, 8 Comments

 
Coastal Cleanup helps get rid of trash in area

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

Travis teachers bring creativity to Shakespeare

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A3

 
Olympians to participate in swim Lap-a-Thon

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

Circle of Friends director to speak in Fairfield

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Be alert to stroke warning signs

By Marilyn Ranson | From Page: C4

Recovery community works for lifelong sobriety

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Musical merry-go-round at Jazz Festival

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Deadline looms for lobster boil tickets

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

 
 
Seven Artisans opens tasting room

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B7 | Gallery

BABA makes big spash

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

 
Old Kmart site sees signs of new life

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B8, 31 Comments | Gallery

 
Airmen with local ties finish basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

Fairfield police log: Sept. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Potential push for Obama to expand military effort

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Teams assess damage as California wildfire burns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

McInerney, Duka help Impact beat Earthquakes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Old pets, new chances: The case for senior adoption

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: C4

Jailed, some mentally ill inmates land in lockdown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Custer youngest winner at 16 in NASCAR series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

Retro-hip barber is growing an ‘empire’ by staying on the cutting edge

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: C6

 
Tense hunt in trooper ambush case hits 8 days

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Tour ship runs aground by NYC’s Statue of Liberty

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Chrysler recalling nearly 189,000 SUVs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Fire captain injured in ice bucket challenge dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
More than 1K people search for missing UVa student

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Second man arrested trying to enter White House

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Pope chooses a moderate for Chicago archbishop

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 4 Comments | Gallery

Astronauts getting 3-D printer at space station

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
NATO chief: Ukraine has cease-fire ‘in name only’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Kurdish fighters head to Syria to face militants

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Turkish hostages freed, but questions linger

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Sierra Leone staggers in Ebola isolation effort

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
El-Sissi ready to back anti-IS fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11 | Gallery

Polly Bergen, versatile actress, singer dies at 84

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Opinion

Sunset Animal Hospital is the best

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Sound off for Sept. 21, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
New car’s fuel mileage accuracy put to the test

By Glen Faison | From Page: A8

 
Stores miss bus on public transit

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 7 Comments

 
Will they ever get the message?

By Rod Keck | From Page: A9, 8 Comments

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Sept. 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

St. Paul pastor’s pulpit? A food truck

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3 | Gallery

 
There is no message of hatred of violence in Christianity

By The Rev. Rick L. Stonestreet | From Page: C3, 7 Comments

Horoscopes: Sept. 21, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

 
My child’s father and I worked things out – but now I’m not so sure

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Author says Christian novel plagiarized, sex added

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2 | Gallery

Springsteen picture book out in November

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Erdrich wins lifetime achievement literary prize

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Designer Donna Karan memoir expected next year

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

Cardinals look to shake off distraction vs. 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Cashner, Padres beat Giants 3-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Prep boys soccer preview: Indians, Vikings off to fast start

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Patriots big favorites vs. Raiders despite mediocre start

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Williams beats A’s for third time with third team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
College football Top 25

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

No. 1 Florida St survives against No. 22 Clemson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Sprint car driver killed in Wisconsin

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Vacaville Christian volleyball team falls in playoffs

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B3

 
Schumacher, Hagan win rain-delayed Carolina event

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Travis Bowl results

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Mi Jung Hur, Paula Reto share lead in Alabama

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Stars Recreation results

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Estimated 7,000 fans trade in Ray Rice jerseys

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

This date in sports history for Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Sports on TV for Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B5

Gaughan snatches Nationwide win at Kentucky

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
Harvick dismisses wins as key to Cup title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

.

Business

Extended warranties a big sell. Are they worth it?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Recalls this week: fire alarm bases, swings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

US tobacco growers brace for tougher competition

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12 | Gallery

 
Marijuana industry battling stoner stereotypes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

George Junior Rhode

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics