Tester Grills VA Nominees: "You Have Two of the Most Challenging Positions at the VA"
Senator Screens Nominees to Lead VA Accountability Efforts and Electronic Health Record Modernization
(U.S. Senate) - Ranking Member Jon Tester today screened two nominees tasked with ensuring that the Department of Veterans Affairs runs smoothly for America's veterans.
Tester sat down with both Tamara Bonzanto, nominee to be Assistant Secretary of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, and James Gfrerer, nominee to be Assistant Secretary of Information and Technology, before today's hearing to ask them tough questions about their resumes and visions for the VA.
"You both have been nominated for two of the most challenging positions at VA," said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. "If you are confirmed, I hope that we can have a constructive relationship because our veterans deserve that."
Bonzanto is nominated to advise VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on how to better hold the VA accountable to veterans and taxpayers, while ensuring that whistleblowers within the Department are protected and their cases are handled fairly and properly. If confirmed, Bonzanto will be the first individual to permanently hold this office, which was created as a part of Tester's VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act.
"We are living in a time when accountability has become shorthand for firing," said Tester. "You have a real opportunity to initiate cultural change in the Department so it welcomes an airing of problems and concerns so the VA can truly be a welcoming place for employees and better deliver high-quality health care and benefits for those who have served."
Gfrerer is nominated to help lead the VA's efforts to modernize its Electronic Health Record system. Tester introduced the Veterans' Electronic Health Record Modernization Oversight Act to ensure the VA is transparent in its plan to roll out the new system for nine million veterans.
"I won't sugarcoat this - you will be heavily involved in what is the largest health care I.T. transformation in American history," said Tester. "You and Secretary Wilkie will be held accountable by me, my colleagues and the American public if the Electronic Health Record Modernization project goes south. It's that simple."
Tester has supported each of the 14 nominees who have come before the Committee to serve veterans at the VA, Department of Labor, and as judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
More information about today's hearing and each nominee can be found online HERE.