VA accused of excessive outsourcing of VA jobs held by vets

InNovember,PresidentBarackObamasignedintolawthe“VOWtoHireHeroesAct,”whichincludedlanguagetosetupanexpeditedprocessforhiringreturningsoldersforfederaljobs.
ButtheVA’sownoutsourcing,whichbegantogrowundertheBushAdministrationandarecontinuingtoexpand,areabolishingmanyfederaljobscurrentlyheldbyveterans,theAmericanFederationofGovernmentEmployees(AFGE),anAFL-CIOunion,saidinaFeb.8newsrelease.
Forexample,theVeteransBenefitsAdministrationrecentlyenteredintoa$54millionthree-yearcontractwithACSGovernmentSystemstoperformclaimsprocessingwork.
Thatworkcurrentlyisbeingperformedby“largenumbersofveterans,”theunionsaid.“Toaddinsulttoinjury,theVBAemployeesarebeingaskedtovolunteertotrainthecontractorstodotheirwork.”
“Contractclaimsprocessorsworkingforprofitwillnowhandlethemostpersonalinformationofourveterans.”AFGENationalPresidentJohnGagesaidintherelease.
Inseveralotheroutsourcingcontractsinrecentyears,theVAalsohasgottenridofmanygovernmentjobshistoricallyheldbyveterans,AFGEsaid.
OtherjobsrecentlyoutsourcedbyVAmedicalcentersandcemeteries,whichhistoricallyhadbeenheldbyveterans,includedcemeterycaretakers,laundryandfoodserviceworkers,housekeepers,groundskeepersandtransportationassistants.
TheVAalsohasfailedtocomplywitha2009lawthatrequirestheagencytodoacost-benefitanalysisbeforeeachoutsourcingcontractisawarded,todeterminewhetherthecontractiscost-effectivefortaxpayers,theunionsaid.
“Theagencycontinuestoviolatefederallawbycontractingoutworkthathasbeentraditionallyperformedbyveterans,”theunionsaid.“Theoutsourcedjobsincludemanyentryleveljobsthatdisabledveteransrelyontogetbackontheirfeetafterreturningfromthebattlefield.”
TheunionalsoclaimedtheVAconducts“excessivecontracting”ofphysicianandnursingservicesratherthanhiringcliniciansfromwithinthemilitary.
“ContractphysiciansandnurseslackthespecializedskillsandbestpracticesofclinicianswhodedicatetheirlivestoservingtheveteranpopulationasVAemployees,”saidAFGENationalVACouncilPresidentAlmaLee.
VAofficialsdidnotimmediatelyrespondtorequestsforcommentonFeb.9.
ComplaintsaboutVAoutsourcinghavearisenonaregularbasisinrecentyears.In2009,thepresidentreversedcourseonaproposedthird-partybillinginitiativeforveteransmedicalcarefollowingnegativemediaattentionaboutit.


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