Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) and Ranking Member Annie Kuster (D-NH), along with Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine), introduced bipartisan legislation to streamline VA’s processes for workforce acquisition.
“I’m proud to join Rep. Poliquin and Ranking Member Kuster in supporting this legislation that takes critical steps to improve the methods by which the VA trains, recruits, and retains top professional talent in acquisition career fields,” said Bergman. “Our men and women in the military have provided an invaluable service. More often than not, their commitment comes with great physical sacrifice and lasting effects requiring a lifetime of care. Our Veterans deserve a reliable and effective support structure from well trained and dedicated professionals.”
“I’m pleased to introduce this important legislation with my Republican colleagues,” said Kuster.
“VA has serious purchasing problems that delays healthcare services to our veterans and wastes billions of dollars of taxpayer funds. This bill would ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs is able to hire and effectively train the employees it holds responsible for purchasing medical supplies and contracting construction projects. This bill would also enable the VA to reform its acquisitions bureaucracy and improve its overall government purchasing operation. I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to immediately pass this legislation so we can help improve the overall accountability, efficiency, and functioning of the VA.”
“Unfortunately, far too often we have seen excessive waste and inefficiencies at the VA that have in some cases severely hurt services to our Veterans,” said Poliquin.
“It is critical that the resources we put into the VA are used in the most efficient ways and to their maximum potential for our Veterans. To achieve this goal, we must ensure the workforce at the VA receives the training needed to cut down waste and improve efficiency, while also eliminating bureaucracy that harms the department’s ability to ultimately carry out this mission. I’m enormously proud to push this legislation forward to increase efficiency, better our Veterans’ services and make sure they receive the care and support they deserve.”
The VA Acquisition Workforce Improvement and Streamlining Act would require VA to create career certification programs for construction and logistics employees, which would be in line with similar programs at the Department of Defense. It would also extend VA’s career certification for contracting officers to VA’s logistics workers and construction managers as well. Furthermore, the bill would direct VA to expand its acquisition intern programs to bring new college graduates and recent veterans into VA to replace retiring employees. The bill pays for these workforce improvements by consolidating redundant acquisition bureaucracy.
The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is expected to mark up this legislation on Wednesday.