VA Whistleblowers Deal With Federal Revenge

Why didn’t we hear about the VA scandal a lot sooner? Of course, many people knew about it but few people came to the media with detailed information about what was going on.

On the one hand we see that many lacked the fear of God that would compel them to warn others. But on the other hand it was because the VA system would avenge itself on anyone who complained to higher authorities. Fox News reports,

Dozens of Veterans Affairs workers who have come forward with stories of mismanagement and patient abuse say they have faced retaliation within the scandal-scarred agency, according to federal investigators.

In one case, a VA employee with a spotless record over two decades was suspended after reporting patients had been inappropriately restrained, according to one of 37 such complaints filed with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC). In another case, an employee claimed to have been demoted after disclosing alleged mishandling of patient care funds. The employee was temporarily reassigned and an investigation is still ongoing, OSC officials said.

The complaints, which involved VA facilities in 19 states, appear to show a culture that discourages whistle-blowing, said officials at the OSC, which is probing the claims.

The VA was, as I have written, claiming to take care of veterans when they obviously didn’t have the resources or the manpower to meet the requirements of the task. So, naturally, since the only real priority of bureaucracies is to preserve themselves, they developed ways to encourage people to lie or at least look the other way when they witnessed lying.

In a third case involving yet another facility, a VA employee at another facility received a seven-day suspension after telling the inspector general’s office about improper scheduling and coding procedures.

Of course, one of the reasons that it is so easy to punish whistleblowers in a government agency is that the government pays a higher salary than a comparable position in the private sector. So while corporations can punish whistleblowers, they don’t wield as much power. Much of the problem here is that it is very hard to have an efficient and ethical government bureaucracy.