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H.R. 1367: To improve the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire and retain physicians and other employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

H.R. 1367 improves the Department of Veterans Affairs’ ability to identify staffing shortages, recruit and retain high-quality employees, and quickly on-board new hires. Specifically, the legislation does the following:

Section 2: The section modifies the annual determination of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) staffing shortages by including 5 clinical occupations and 5 non-clinical occupations within each VA medical center. The Committee believes this will allow for a more targeted identification of local staffing needs.

Section 3: This section establishes an Executive Management Program to allow eligible VHA and Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) employees the opportunity to take one-year fellowship positions in comparable private-sector entities and eligible private sector employees to take one year fellowship positions in comparable VHA or VBA sites. The Committee believes this program will foster and facilitate a mutually beneficial exchange of people, ideas, knowledge, and best practices between the VA and private sector entities.

Section 4: This section requires the VA to conduct annual performance plans for VA political appointees to ensure senior political appointees undergo performance planning and appraisal processes similar to career senior executives. Each performance plan will evaluate recruiting, selecting, and retaining well-qualified individuals for VA employment; engaging and motivating employees; training and developing employees and preparing them for future VA leadership roles; and holding each manager accountable for addressing performance issues for the employees under their purview. This will not include performance awards to political appointees.

Section 5: This section changes the requirement that guardsmen and reservists must serve 180 consecutive days on active duty to a requirement that they serve 180 cumulative days on active duty to be eligible for veterans’ preference. It also expands those considered “preference eligible” to include all retired servicemembers.

Section 6: This section allows the VA to noncompetitively reappoint a former VA employee to a position not more than one grade higher than his or her former position as long as the employee left voluntarily within the prior two years, had a satisfactory performance record, and maintained necessary licensures and credentials.

Section 7: This section requires the VA to establish a recruiting database listing each vacant position that VA determines is critical to its mission, is difficult to fill, or both. The database would contain information on qualified individuals who applied for a position within the VA and were not chosen but could be qualified for other similar positions within the VA.

Section 8: This section requires the VA to train VHA human resources professionals after their initial hire and annually thereafter on how to recruit and retain VHA employees, in general, and on recruitment and retention matters that are unique to the VHA.

Section 9: This section requires the VA to establish a promotional track for technical experts that does not require the transition to a managerial position. The Committee believes this will allow VA to retain needed, high-quality employees who desire to advance in their career without taking on management role within VA.

Section 10: This section requires GAO to study and report on succession planning for each medical facility within the VHA as well as mission-critical positions within VBA and NCA. This study would include: a determination of the mission-critical positions and the vacancy risk of such positions; an analysis of the future needs for the identified positions; and, strategies to fill gaps through training for existing staff, targeted recruitment and hiring.

Section 11: This section requires the VA to collect information, indicators, and measurements on hiring effectiveness and employee satisfaction and submit an annual report to Congress on the information collected for each Veterans Integrated Service Network. Some of these indicators include: recruiting and hiring well-qualified talent from diverse talent pools, the use and impact of special hiring authorities and flexibilities to recruit the most qualified applicants (including the use of student internships as a talent pool for future hires), and the use and impact of special hiring authorities and flexibilities to recruit diverse candidates (including veteran, minority and disabled candidates).

Section 12: This section requires the VA to promulgate regulations to allow for excepted service appointments for students and recent graduates leading to conversion to career or career conditional employment.

Section 13: This section requires the VA to develop and conduct a standardized, anonymous exit survey to be voluntarily completed by VA employees who voluntarily elect to terminate their employment with the Department. The results of these surveys are to be compiled and shared with Congress in an annual report.

Last updated Mar 18, 2017. Source: Republican Policy Committee

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Mar 17, 2017.

(Sec. 2) This bill provides that the annual determination of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) staff shortages shall include shortages for a minimum of five clinical and five non-clinical occupations for each network. (Such determination currently includes the five occupations for which there are the largest Department of Veterans Affairs [VA]-wide shortages.)

(Sec. 3) The bill establishes in the VA an executive management fellowship program to provide eligible employees of: (1) the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and the VHA with private sector training and experience, and (2) a private-sector entity with VA training and experience.

The VA shall: (1) annually select between 18 and 30 eligible VHA and VBA employees and between 18 and 30 eligible private sector employees for such one-year fellowships, and (2) select such employees in a manner that reflects U.S. veteran demographics and that provides a preference for employees who represent or service rural areas.

(Sec. 4) The VA shall conduct an annual performance plan for each political appointee that is similar to the plan conducted for VA career senior executive employees.

Each plan shall assess whether an appointee is meeting specified goals, including: (1) recruiting and retaining well-qualified individuals, and (2) motivating and developing employees for future VA leadership roles.

(Sec. 5) Veterans federal employment preference provisions are amended to: (1) make all retired members of the armed forces preference eligible, and (2) provide preference eligible individuals with a senior executive position hiring preference.

(Sec. 6) The VA may non-competitively appoint a qualified former employee to any VA position within the competitive or excepted service that is one grade or equivalent higher than the position most recently occupied by the employee.

(Sec. 7) The VA shall establish a single database that lists each vacant VA position that is: (1) critical, difficult to fill, or both; or (2) for a mental health professional.

(Sec. 8) The VA shall provide VHA human resources professionals with employee recruitment and retention training as soon as practicable after being hired and annually thereafter.

(Sec. 9) The VA shall establish a promotional track system for employees who are technical experts to advance without being required to transition to management positions.

(Sec. 10) The Government Accountability Office shall conduct a study of succession planning at: (1) each VA medical facility, including each medical center, domiciliary facility, outpatient clinic, community-based outpatient clinic, and vet center; and (2) the VBA and the VA National Cemetery Administration.

(Sec. 11) The VA shall prescribe regulations to allow for excepted service appointments of qualifying students and recent graduates leading to career or career conditional employment. Such conversion authority shall apply to individuals who: (1) are employed in a qualifying VA internship or fellowship program, (2) are employed in the VA in a volunteer capacity or under a contract or agreement with an external nonprofit organization and are performing duties comparable to individuals in internship or fellowship programs, (3) have received Post-9/11 educational assistance, or (4) are under 30 years old and graduated from a qualifying educational institution.

(Sec. 12) The VA shall develop, in consultation with an appropriate non-VA entity, and carry out a standardized exit survey for career and noncareer VA employees and executives who voluntarily separate from the VA. Survey results shall be shared annually with directors and managers of VA and VISN facilities.

(Sec. 13) The VA shall establish a program to encourage an individual who serves in the Armed Forces with a military health care specialty to seek post-military employment with the VHA.

(14) The VA shall: (1) develop a plan to hire qualified directors for each VA medical center that lacks a permanent director, and (2) prioritize such hiring for medical centers that have not had a permanent director for the longest periods.

(Sec. 15) The VA shall ensure that a VISN recruiter visits at least annually each allopathic and osteopathic teaching institution with a graduate medical education program within the network to recruit individuals for the VHA.