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Miller: VA can fire bad workers right now

WASHINGTON -- In an address before the American Legion last week, House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., blamed at least part of the benefits backlog problem on “problematic employees” within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

He said he wants more accountability -- and firings -- of claims specialists and supervisors failing at their jobs, saying he believes those workers are often simply reassigned to other offices.

On Wednesday, Miller told Stars and Stripes that he doesn’t see the need for new legislation to help the department fire those poor performers, just more willpower from VA administrators.

“It’s not that hard to fire an individual that is not doing his or her job,” he said. “I don’t think we need to legislate it, but we do need to tell VA leaders that we’re behind them and expect them to deal with the problem.”

Miller said he thinks the real barrier to firing subpar government workers isn’t regulations but fear of legal repercussions from such a move. But he wants VA supervisors to start worrying more about getting veterans services on track than avoiding conflict with unmotivated and untalented workers.

The department employs about 300,000 staffers. Miller said he thinks the problematic ones are a small fraction of the total.

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