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Rob Nabors Cites 'Corrosive Culture' in VA Scandal

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors found "a corrosive culture" and inadequate resources contributed to the VA health care scandal in a report he delivered to President Barack Obama Friday.  

Nabors and acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan D. Gibson briefed Obama on their latest findings and actions taken to date — including new protections for whistleblowers and $393 million in spending to accelerate care.  

"A corrosive culture has led to personnel problems across the department that are seriously impacting morale, and by extension, the timeliness of care," the Nabors' report says. Nabors blamed the culture problems in part on the difficulty in hiring and firing employees and also on history of backlash against whistleblowers.  

He also said the 14-day scheduling standard was unrealistic and may have incentivized inappropriate actions.  

But he also pegged blame on a lack of resources and outdated systems.  

The computer scheduling system hasn't been updated since 1985, pre-dating the Internet. The Department hopes to get a new system up and running in fiscal 2015.  

Nabors, who will stay on at the VA for now at the request of the president, also said the VA needs more doctors, administrators and facilities like parking.  

The department's inspector general is now investigating 77 VA facilities, according to Nabors. Reports about scheduling problems started at least as early as 2005.  

You can read the publicly released summary of the Rob Nabors VA report at this link. According to a readout from the White House, the VA has acted to counter wait lists at facilities nationwide, contacting 135,000 veterans, scheduling 182,000 appointments, training 10,000 schedulers and budgeting $393 million for accelerated care.  

"Additionally, VA has taken specific actions at  some of the most challenged VA facilities, including: hiring more support staff to help get veterans off wait lists and into clinics, deploying more mobile medical units for veterans awaiting care, and expanding access to care to local communities. VA is also utilizing high-performing facilities to help those that need improvement," according to the readout.  

Twice monthly updates will be posted at VA.gov/health.  

Gibson also expressed support for protecting whistleblowers.