(WASHINGTON)--American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. today issued the following statement in response to reports of VISN 4 Director Michael Moreland receiving a five-figure Presidential Rank award on the heels of a Legionnaires' outbreak and other whistleblower retaliation concerns in his region.
"This is absolutely unbelievable. We are truly at a loss as to why the VA continues to reward those in its leadership ranks who clearly are not operating in the best interest of our veterans. The recent VA Office of Inspector General report shows us that leaders within the Pittsburgh VA system, and Director Moreland, knew of the Legionella problem early on and for more than a year didn't take all of the necessary actions to keep our veterans and hospital employees safe. Why should Mr. Moreland be rewarded for mismanagement?
"We've seen this time and time again at the VA; front-line employees are forced to do more with less, while agency executives are pulling in bonuses despite mismanagement, retaliation and intimidation of employees under their watch.
"The Legionnaires' outbreak is a serious issue and is linked to the death of five of our nation's heroes. Yet, it didn't occur to VA leadership that this isn't the right time to reward folks who seem to have dropped the ball having been the subject of intense scrutiny by Congressional oversight committees and the VA's own Inspector General. This is a kick in the teeth to the victims' families and hospital employees who were kept in the dark.
"AFGE renews its call for the removal of Mr. Moreland and urges the VA to take a serious look at its leadership team. As the agency providing world-class care to our vets, we cannot afford to have careerists in leadership positions that lack the skills needed to positively impact the VA workforce and advance the mission of the agency."