COMMENTARY | The Washington Examiner notes that the calls for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s head has risen to a crescendo, with law makers on both sides of the aisle wondering why there is no accountability in the scandal that has involved the deaths of so many vets.
Ralph Peters, a retired Army colonel and a military analyst for Fox News, has been one of Shinseki’s few defenders. He blames, not without cause, the system for being too cumbersome and too resistant to change. He also asks what is a not so trivial question. Who would replace Shinseki?
I’d like to put forward a name. Former general and secretary of state Colin Powell. He has garnered as lot of bipartisan respect over the years, is an Obama loyalist, and has run large organizations (i.e. the U.S. military during the Gulf War) before. Obama could name Powell with the task of cleaning up the VA, giving him leave to convene a panel of experts who will draw up a plan for doing so.
Just as a sweetener, Congress should suspend civil service regulations to allow Powell to fire and hire people at will. One of the bugs that has plagued the government for so long is that it is very hard to get rid of incompetent civil servants. We could conduct an interesting experiment, taking advantage of the awful nature of the VA scandal, to find out what would happen if there was accountability in a government organization.
One suspects that people in government would actually start to perform and to be careful about what they do. Every bureaucrat should ask him or herself, “Could I explain what I’m about to do to a congressional oversight committee with straight face?” Clearly putting vets on secret waiting lists, sometimes until they died, does not pass that test.