Tester Statement on VA’s Misuse of PACT Act Workforce Authority

Chairman Jon Tester of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee released a statement today following news of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) misguided use of a critical skill incentive (CSI) authority in the PACT Act to ensure VA can better recruit and retain employees to serve veterans and their families:

“The PACT Act gave VA the tools to recruit and retain more highly-skilled employees to meet increased demand from toxic-exposed veterans newly eligible for care and benefits, and it’s unacceptable that any of these resources were misused and directed towards senior executives at VA headquarters who didn’t meet the appropriate criteria. While VA is now fully recouping these funds, it’s clear more needs to be done to ensure this never happens again, and that recruitment and retention tools are used the way Congress intended with no room for error. I expect VA to provide us with swift answers about this mismanagement.”

During a recent review of expenditures, VA identified it had misdirected a portion of these incentives to certain career senior executives who work at VA headquarters—contrary to criteria in the PACT Acttargeting VA employees in the field with critical skills or in high-demand jobs. Today, VA announced it is cancelling all CSI payments made to these career senior executives, and reviewing and strengthening the CSI approval process. CSI payments to employees in the field will be retained.

Last Congress, Tester successfully secured key workforce provisions to support VA in the PACT Act, aimed at delivering toxic-exposed veterans their earned care and benefits. This included resources for VA to strengthen the recruitment and retention of its workforce to better serve veterans, including the CSI authority.


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