New VA Chief Robert McDonald Explains How Difficult It Is To Fire a Government Employee


Robert McDonald, the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs, talked to Scott Pelley about cleaning up the agency on this Sunday's broadcast of 60 Minutes on CBS.

Scott Pelley, CBS News: How many employees do you think should be fired based on what you know?

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald: The report we've passed up to the Senate Committee and House Committee, has about 35 names on it. I've got another report that has over 1,000.

Scott Pelley: If 1,000 people need to go, give me a sense of what are some of the things that they did?

Secretary McDonald: We're simplistically talking about people who violated our values.

Scott Pelley: And those values are what?

Secretary McDonald: It's integrity, it's advocacy, it's respect, it's excellence. These are the things that we try to do for our veterans.

Scott Pelly: But Bob McDonald can't punish or fire a thousand people right now. He's discovering how different the Capitol is from capitalism. To fire a government manager he has to put together a case and prove it to an administrative judge.

Secretary McDonald: Scott, the reason this is, reason this is okay in some respects is that...

Scott Pelley: A lot of people think it's not okay...

Secretary McDonald: Well...

Scott Pelley: ...that if people lied and put veterans second...

Secretary McDonald: That's different.

Scott Pelley: ...and their self first, they should be cleared out.

Secretary McDonald: Absolutely. Absolutely. But we've got to make it stick.

Scott Pelley: How do you mean?

Secretary McDonald: So we propose the action, the judge rules and the individual has a time to appeal that's why we have a lot of people on administrative leave. We've moved them out because we don't want any harm to our veterans.

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