Awful Managers: VA Edition

Thursday, October 29, 2015
VA Secretary Robert McDonald (photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP)

Some managers at the Veterans Administration central office have been accused of incompetence, bullying and discrimination in a report to the agency by a union.


The American Federation of Government Employees Local 17, at the request of VA director Bob McDonald, submitted a list of complaints about management to the agency. The report, with names redacted, was obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by Government Executive.


Among the complaints in the report:


·       One supervisor “humiliates her subordinates in public with a raised voice to ensure that her words are audible to all. She insults dedicated employees regarding their commitment and competence but fails to give constructive feedback. She bullies, issues threats, screams, and uses derogatory names. When she is dissatisfied with an employee for any reason, she ceases communications with and sidelines the employee, leaving him or her with little idea of what is going on. She rants and raves upon hearing an opposing opinion or any opinion that is not her own.”


·       Another “is untrustworthy and dishonest. For example, she has instructed subordinates to sign documents indicating that midyear evaluations took place even though they had not. Indeed, she has failed to issue both performance standards and performance evaluations to some employees in violation of VA policy and OPM regulations.”


·       Another “did away with compressed work schedules (CWS) that had been in place prior to her arrival, she got rid of telework despite the fact that a telework agreement was in place, and she forced part-time employees to return to full-time work. Her employees, who enjoyed a certain level of flexibility through CWS, telework, and part-time arrangements were made to adhere to a strict 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. schedule. Even minor tardiness is not tolerated; for example, employees who are no more than 15 minutes late are compelled to take either paid or unpaid leave. . . . Employees must request permission to use the bathroom.”


There are no rebuttals in the report from the managers named and the VA did not comment on the report.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

July 2015 Report to Secretary Bob McDonald on Problem Managers at VA Central Office (by American Federation of Government Employees Local 17) (pdf)

VA Managers Reportedly Curse, Dish About Sex, And Force Workers to Ask Permission to Use the Bathroom (by Kellie Lunney, Government Executive)

VA Overtakes Defense Dept. as Leading Government Source of Complaints about Treatment of Employees (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

2 GSA Managers Named in Lavish Conference Scandal Reinstated with 30 Months Back Pay (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Leave a comment