VA Executives Face Big Pay Cuts if Claims Backlog Isn’t Fixed

Senior officials’ pay would be slashed by 25 percent under legislation passed by the House.

Senior executives in the Veterans Affairs Department could face a 25 percent pay cut unless they substantially reduce the number of disability claims backlogged for four months or longer by next summer. That provision was included in the 2014 Military Construction-VA funding bill passed by the House Tuesday.

The House adopted an amendment by Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., which would limit the pay of senior VA officials to 75 percent of their salary from July 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2014, “unless as of July 1, 2014, the percentage of disability compensation claims that are more than 125 days old is less than or equal to 40 percent.” On Monday VA reported claims backlogged 125 days or longer totaled 569,418 -- 66.2 percent of all 860,203 pending claims.

It’s not the only provision targeting department executives’ compensation: VA Senior Executive Service Personnel won’t get any bonuses in 2014 if the House bill becomes law, as the result of another amendment by Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Pa.

The House bill -- if it becomes law after a Conference with the Senate -- also contains language that derails Defense Department plans, announced by Secretary Chuck Hagel last month, to develop its own electronic health record based on commercial software.

An amendment by John Culberson, R-Texas, required Defense to develop an integrated electronic health record as defined in the Defense-VA Joint Executive Council’s strategic plan for 2013 through 2015, which doesn’t leave the Pentagon any wiggle room to pursue a solo strategy.