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

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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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