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  1. #1
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    May 2007
    South West Florida (Behind friendly lines but still in Occupied Territory)

    The Rot Runs Deep: Thousands of Bureaucrats Need to Go

    The Rot Runs Deep: Thousands of Bureaucrats Need to Go

    By David French
    June 18, 2014 12:20 PM
    Comments 40

    Here are two stories in juxtaposition. First, from NRO on Monday:
    Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson fiercely rebuked calls to reprimand or fire employees of the VA during a visit to a Fayetteville, N.C. medical center.

    “This idea that ‘let’s fire everybody, let’s pull everybody’s bonus away’ — that’s a bunch of crap” he said, according to WNCN. “I’m not going to see people sit there and say that we got 350,000 people that aren’t worth a crap.”
    Next, let’s pull a few paragraphs from James Taranto writing in the Wall Street Journal online:
    “VA officials were not immediately available for comment Monday,” the Washington Times reported yesterday. “Representatives at the national VA declined to comment on the record for this story,” the Daily Beast informed us late last month. “The VA did not immediately respond to a request for comment,” according to a mid-May NBC News report.
    Those are the first three of some 70 no-comments compiled by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee for a webpage optimistically titled “VA Honesty Project,” whose purpose is “to highlight the Department of Veterans Affairs’ lack of transparency with the press and the public about its operations and activities.”
    “Because the Department of Veterans Affairs is a taxpayer funded organization, it has a responsibility to fully explain itself to the press and the public,” the committee’s site declares. “Unfortunately, in many cases VA is failing in this responsibility, as department officials–including 54 full-time public affairs employees–routinely ignore media inquiries.”
    I point to the VA public affairs office not as proof by itself that thousands of federal workers are incompetent or corrupt enough to be fired but simply as an example: Examine virtually any portion of the sprawling federal bureaucracy, and you’ll find the kind of conduct Taranto describes — bureaucrats either failing to do their job entirely, failing at their job, or simply abusing the power of their office. And it’s no wonder — our Orwellian-named “merit” system for federal employees offers extreme levels of job protection. How extreme? Here’s USA Today:
    Federal employees’ job security is so great that workers in many agencies are more likely to die of natural causes than get laid off or fired . . . The federal government fired 0.55% of its workers in the budget year that ended Sept. 30 — 11,668 employees in its 2.1 million workforce. Research shows that the private sector fires about 3% of workers annually for poor performance, says John Palguta, former research chief at the federal Merit Systems Protection Board, which handles federal firing disputes.
    I’ve posted the USA Today story before, but it’s worth the repeat. When dealing with the federal bureaucracy, we’re dealing with a collection of individuals who simply don’t live with the kind of job insecurity that hangs over the heads of most Americans. Most people live with the reality that not only are their job fortunes tied to the overall financial health of the corporation, but also that poor performance will lead (frequently) to rapid termination even if the corporation is doing well. The incentives — both to help the company thrive and to personally perform well — are obvious. But people are people (highly imperfect), and even in the face of these strong incentives, poor performance can abound even in the private sector.
    The situation is much worse in the public sector, where the incentive structure is dramatically skewed, layers of bureaucracy protect poor performers, and politics is seeping down to the lowest levels — transforming many of our key public-sector institutions into vast, costly, and inefficient extensions of the Democratic party.
    So the VA that Sloan Gibson fiercely defends is the same VA that not only makes headlines with its systematic corruption and deception — corruption that costs lives — but also can’t even handle small things like answering press inquires with their 54 full-time public-affairs employees or (to take one example from personal knowledge) firing an employee caught snorting cocaine in the parking lot.
    No one is saying that all 350,000 employees are bad. But thousands are, and their continued employment and — even worse — continued protection from the top-down of a dysfunctional bureaucracy harms the government, harms the employees that work with them each day, and — most important – harms the American people they’re supposed to serve.
    So, Secretary Gibson, spare us the crocodile tears until you can show us that your 350,000 people can do the jobs they’re hired to do.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    May 2007
    South West Florida (Behind friendly lines but still in Occupied Territory)
    Report: Psychiatrists, DoD & VA Spent Billions Not Treating Veterans

    Susanne Posel 5 hours ago
    1 Comment

    Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) spend $3.3 billion a year on psychiatric medications and therapy for US veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) without any proof that their efforts are “successfully treating” our military.

    While the VA spent billions in taxpayer money not treating PTSD, “nearly 80 percent of its senior executives got performance bonuses last year.”
    Gina Farrisee, assistant secretary of human resources for the VA spoke to Congress, stating that “more than 350 VA executives were paid nearly $3 million in bonuses last year. The VA needs to pay bonuses to keep executives who are paid up to $181,000 per year.”
    The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report stating that psychiatrists and psychicians at the VA and DoD do not communicate with each other when dealing with patients diagnosed with PTSD.
    Outlined in the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the DoD and VA are tasked with providing “a spectrum of programs and services to screen for, diagnose, treat for, and rehabilitate service members and veterans who have or are at risk for PTSD.”
    The NDAA empowered IOM to “assess those PTSD programs and services in two phases. The Phase 1 study, Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Military and Veteran Populations: Initial Assessment, focused on data gathering. Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Military and Veteran Populations Final Assessment is the report of the second phase of the study.”
    Phase 1 of this study looks at the “psychiatric consequences” of soldiers who served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
    Sandro Galea, chair of the IOM committee who conducted the study commented: “We are hoping this serves as a clarion call and blueprint to guide where we should be.”
    Galea said: “We found it surprising that no PTSD outcome measures are used consistently to know if these treatments are working or not. They could be highly effective, but we won’t know unless outcomes are tracked and evaluated.”

    In Phase 1 of the study, the IOM found:

    • The Defense Department’s PTSD programs “appear to be local, ad hoc, incremental, and crisis-driven, with little planning devoted to the development of a long-range approach”
    • Leaders within DoD and the service branches “at all levels” are not consistently held accountable for failing to implement programs meant to effectively manage PTSD in troops
    • It’s unclear whether VA hospital administrators around the country follow the agency’s minimum-care requirements for veterans with PTSD

    Sloan Gibson, acting secretary of the VA, stated in a new report that “tens of thousands more veterans than previously reported are forced to wait at least a month for medical appointments at Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics, according to an updated audit of 731 VA medical facilities.”
    Doctored numbers from “new figures” in this report claim that “the wait times actually experienced at most VA facilities were shorter than those on waiting lists for pending appointments.”
    However, these figures do not take into account “new patients at the Atlanta VA hospital waited about an average of 44 days for an appointment in April” and the average waiting time was 66 days.
    The new math also does not include “patients who walk into a clinic and get immediate or quick treatment. They also don’t reflect rescheduled appointments or those that are moved up because of openings due to cancellations.”
    Indeed, 10% of veterans waited an estimated 30 days for an initial appointment and 4% of veterans “were forced to endure long waits.”


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