VA Cemetery Chief Retires One Month before Publication of Report Exposing his Prohibited Personnel Practices

Monday, July 21, 2014

Timing is everything. Steve Muro, the VA’s Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs, retired June 20 after more than 35 years with the agency. A month later, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Inspector General issued a report (pdf) criticizing Muro for improper personnel practices.

 

The report charged that Muro created a job for a friend in violation of civil service regulations; that he had an improper relationship with a contractor for the National Cemetery Administration (NCA), which he managed; and that he improperly gave that contractor business for educational services that were already available through VA channels.

 

Muro’s friend, whose name is redacted in the report, originally planned to retire in 2003. Muro gave the friend retention incentives and other raises over several years to dissuade him from retiring. Eventually, Muro created a job at a higher civil service rank and ensured it would go to his friend, thus enhancing the friend’s pension by $400 a month.

 

Muro’s relationship with contractor Patricia Noonan was deemed improper by the IG. He continued contacting Noonan after being advised to stop, he used his position improperly in giving her a letter of recommendation and improperly supported her efforts to win VA contracts.

In addition, NCA gave Noonan contracts to provide services for recently promoted NCA employees or those who were seeking promotions. The services involved professional coaching in giving presentations and completing individual development plans. Noonan received $250 an hour for providing that coaching, which was already available internally through VA’s Learning University.

 

This isn’t the first time problems have been found in Muro’s domain, according to The Washington Post. A 2012 VA review discovered that sets of remains were buried in incorrect graves and some grave markers were missing or incorrect. Muro worked to correct those issues by the following year.

 

Since Muro has retired, the recent IG report recommended no punitive action against him. The report urged that VA to investigate whether corrective action should be taken in regards to two applicants who did not get the job given to Muro’s friend, and to review any contracts still in force with Noonan to ensure there is no conflict of interest or other problems.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Administrative Investigation (VA Inspector General) (pdf)

Mixed Legacy For Retiring VA Cemetery Chief Steve Muro (by Josh Hicks, Washington Post)

Comments

steve 1 year ago
how do the people that were un fairly helped by Pat Noonan as stated in the IG report for promotion. The three females that were named Elton, Wright and Garza arent even They knew to call Noonan because Noonan was closer than an arms length from Muro.
BARBARA 2 years ago
WOW! SO MS NOONAN TRAINED THEM TO BE EXECUTIVES AND HAD RESUMES REVIEWD BY SIAD CRIMINAL. WAY TOO SCREW THE MASSES
SJG 2 years ago
EVERY NCA EMPLOYEE SHOULD BE ANGRY AND DEMANDING JUSTICE.This is just the tip of the iceberg. Steve Muro created an environment of intimidation and favors (just ask Ms Murphy A/O FNC; the wife of the former director Billy Murphy the only person in the department of veterans affairs that was qualified for the position)..my bad she is still not qualified just favored by the corrupt leaders of NCA. This is more widespread than you can imagine. This could be an amazing agency to work for love; the mission hate the BS. Keep looking there is more. Almost all of the leaders lacks integrity, character and the ability to lead. The agency is filled with micromanaging incompetent idiots from the Directors to the Memorial Service networks to the under secretary. Clean house please the little people beg you to keep turning on the lights and watch the roaches scatter. These sorry excuses for leaders screw up and then get promoted..ZERO ACCOUNTABILITY

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