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US Veterans Agency Fires 4 Executives

  • VOA News

FILE - The sign of the Department of Veteran Affairs is seen in front of the headquarters building in Washington, May 23, 2014.

FILE - The sign of the Department of Veteran Affairs is seen in front of the headquarters building in Washington, May 23, 2014.

The U.S. agency that oversees health care for the country's 21 million military veterans has fired four senior executives as it attempts to end long wait times for patients seeking medical care.

The firings at the Department of Veterans Affairs are the first since Congress made it easier for the agency to get rid of officials suspected of wrongdoing.

One top official at the veterans' agency said authorities "will actively and aggressively pursue disciplinary action" against officials "who violate our values."

One of the officials fired was John Goldman, director of the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, Georgia, where employees admitted they falsified records to hide long wait times for veterans who sought appointments with doctors.

Records manipulated

Another of those fired, James Talton, director of the Central Alabama VA Healthcare System, led a facility where hundreds of X-rays of patients went unread and more patient records were manipulated.

Another executive being fired is Susan Taylor, the deputy chief procurement officer with the VHA who oversees $15 billion a year in federal contracts.

A report by the VA's Office of Inspector General found that Taylor helped steer contracts to a private company that championed so-called reverse auctions, in which sellers compete with each other to offer the lowest bids, The Associated Press reported.

The VA's report also said Taylor advocated for the company, Virginia-based FedBid, and worked to discredit a senior VA official who had declared a moratorium on reverse auctions while the government studied them, according to the AP.

Terry Gerigk Wolf, director of the Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System, is being fired for unspecified "conduct unbecoming a senior executive," the AP reported.

The veterans' agency has acknowledged that the slow access to health care may have contributed to the deaths of some patients in recent years.

As the veterans' health care scandal erupted several months ago, the agency chief resigned.

President Barack Obama named a new leader, Robert McDonald, a retired chief executive at one of the country's biggest consumer products companies, Proctor & Gamble.

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