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VA chief sees agency as rather like a business


VA Secretary Robert McDonald  said May 23 that his organization is more similar to the private sector than other federal agencies,  says a report from Federal News Radio.

“VA is a business,” Mr. McDonald said at a meeting hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “If VA were a business on the Fortune 500, we would be No. 6. … I have to compete with the other medical systems in the country. What’s right? Is it right to compare VA with other parts of government? Or is right to compare it with the other businesses it competes with for resources? I think it’s right to compare it with the other businesses we have to compete with.”

Federal News Radio said that his  comments come in context of the Veterans First Act, recently passed by the Senate VA Committee. This act would  let the secretary appoint, pay and discipline the department’s managers, thus enabling the  agency to, among other things, streamline and accelerate disciplinary actions. While Mr. McDonald has not yet announced his official position on the legislation, he said, seemingly in a favorable tone, that it would remove some of the red tape in executive recruitment  and  make  writing compensation contracts easier.

“What we should be measuring is the veteran’s satisfaction. What really counts is how does the veteran feel about [his or her] encounter with the VA. When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line?” he asked, Federal News Radio reported.

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