There is an old saying that, “A fish rots from the head down.” It is often used against politicians and governments, but it applies to any organization with “leadership.” It implies that when things go wrong, it is not the low-level employees who cause the problem, but the executives in charge.
After all, executives’ role is to see that a job, whatever it a may be, is executed. When the job is done poorly or not at all, a significant part of the blame lies with those empowered with organizing and implementing the operation necessary to complete a job. The Veterans’ Affairs scheduling scandal has highlighted the deficiencies with the VA’s management of aspects of their programs.
However, the response from Congress to “solve” these problems seem equally likely to only make matters worse. Congress is irritated with the VA, in that it has not fired numerous employees. So, new legislation has been proposed that would allow virtually instant terminations of all employees.
A VA employee would have seven days to appeal a notice of removal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and the Board would have 45 days to render a final determination. Given that many of these cases demand numerous records or documents that may take time to collect and analyze this type of law would simply allow a rotten management structure to fire ordinary employee’s based on the pretense of fixing problems.
Employees could be dismissed in less than two months with no recourse, and corrupt management could protect itself, by removing whistleblowers who may be the only workers willing to say what needs to be said.
A rush to judgment is unlikely to solve the underlying issues at the VA and it could threaten to undermine the entire civil service system if it were to be expanded beyond the VA.