VA fires 4 senior executives in scandal response

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VA fires 4 senior executives in scandal response
HINES, IL - MAY 30: A sign marks the entrance to the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital on May 30, 2014 in Hines, Illinois. Hines, which is located in suburban Chicago, has been linked to allegations that administrators kept secret waiting lists at Veterans Administration hospitals so hospital executives could collect bonuses linked to meeting standards for rapid treatment. Today, as the scandal continued to grow, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki apologized in public and then resigned from his post. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama delivers a statement after meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki at the White House in Washington, DC, May 21, 2014. Veterans have had to wait months to see a doctor at some hospitals, and allegations have arisen that administrators at a VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, covered up the delays there. As many as 40 patients were reported to have died while waiting to be seen by a VA doctor. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
This May 19, 2014 photo shows a a sign in front of the Veterans Affairs building in Washington, DC. The VA and Secretary Eric Shinseki are under fire amid reports by former and current VA employees that up to 40 patients may have died because of delayed treatment at an agency hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama delivers a statement after meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki at the White House in Washington, DC, May 21, 2014. Veterans have had to wait months to see a doctor at some hospitals, and allegations have arisen that administrators at a VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, covered up the delays there. As many as 40 patients were reported to have died while waiting to be seen by a VA doctor. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Bill Bradshaw, director of national veterans service for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), listens during a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, May 15, 2014. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said he is 'mad as hell' over allegations of treatment delays and cover-ups at VA health clinics in Phoenix and Fort Collins, Colorado. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Bernard 'Bernie' Sanders, an independent from Vermont and chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, makes an opening statement during a hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, May 15, 2014. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said he is 'mad as hell' over allegations of treatment delays and cover-ups at VA health clinics in Phoenix and Fort Collins, Colorado. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15: U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki (C) listens to American Legion National Commander Daniel Dellinger (L) speak during a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing that is focusing on wait times veterans face to get medical care May 15, 2014 in Washington, DC. The American Legion called Monday for the resignation of Shinseki amid reports by former and current VA employees that up to 40 patients may have died because of delayed treatment at an agency hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
FILE--The Phoenix VA Health Care Center in Phoenix, is seen in this Monday, April 28, 2014, file photo. A team of federal investigators swept into the city last month amid allegations of a disturbing cover-up at the veterans hospital, and began interviewing staff at the facility and poring over records, emails and electronic databases.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Sen. John McCain embraces Gabriel Basso after she shared how her veteran husband died during a forum with veterans on Friday, May 9, 2014, in Phoenix. McCain was discussing lapses in care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital that prompted a national review of operations around the country. (AP Photo/Matt York)
FILE - Veteran Mark Howey waits to ask a question as Sen. John McCain speaks during a forum with veterans regarding lapses in care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital, on Friday, May 9, 2014, in Phoenix. Grieving family members of dead veterans have joined politicians from both parties in loud protests over VA care. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Sen. John McCain speaks during a forum with veterans on Friday, May 9, 2014, in Phoenix. McCain was discussing lapses in care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital that prompted a national review of operations around the country. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Veterans listen as Sen. John McCain speaks during a forum with veterans on Friday, May 9, 2014, in Phoenix. McCain was discussing lapses in care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital that prompted a national review of operations around the country. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Sen. John McCain listens to complaints from veterans during a forum with veterans on Friday, May 9, 2014, in Phoenix. McCain was discussing lapses in care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital that prompted a national review of operations around the country. (AP Photo/Matt York)
FILE - Sen. John McCain, left, R-AZ, and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, hold a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System, adjacent to the VA Hospital in this Friday, April 18, 2014 file photo taken in Phoenix. Growing concerns about allegations of gross mismanagement and neglect at the Phoenix VA Health Care Center have resulted in a commitment by the chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee to hold a hearing, members of Arizona's congressional delegation said Thursday April 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
FILE - With Vietnam military veteran Chuck Tharp, right, listening in, Sen. John McCain, second from left, R-AZ, and Sen. Jeff Flake, left, R-AZ, finish up a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System, adjacent to the VA Hospital in this Friday, April 18, 2014 file photo taken in Phoenix. Growing concerns about allegations of gross mismanagement and neglect at the Phoenix VA Health Care Center have resulted in a commitment by the chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee to hold a hearing, members of Arizona's congressional delegation said Thursday April 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
FILE - Sen. Jeff Flake, left, R-AZ, shakes hands and speaks with Vietnam veteran Chuck Tharp, right, after a news conference where Flake and Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, discussed recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System in this Friday, April 18, 2014 file photo taken in Phoenix. Growing concerns about allegations of gross mismanagement and neglect at the Phoenix VA Health Care Center have resulted in a commitment by the chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee to hold a hearing, members of Arizona's congressional delegation said Thursday April 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
Joined by military veterans and local politicians, Sen. John McCain, second from right, R-AZ, and Sen. Jeff Flake, far right, R-AZ, hold a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System on Friday, April 18, 2014, in Phoenix. Last week's disclosures by current and former Department of Veterans Affairs employees is leading to investigations by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Inspector General for the VA are looking into not only the deaths, but allegations of falsified record keeping and medical reporting. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
With the VA Hospital in the background, Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, speaks and Sen. Jeff Flake, front right, R-AZ, listens at a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System on Friday, April 18, 2014, in Phoenix. Last week's disclosures by current and former Department of Veterans Affairs employees is leading to investigations by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Inspector General for the VA are looking into not only the deaths, but allegations of falsified record keeping and medical reporting. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
A military veteran stands next to his bicycle as Sen. John McCain, left, R-Az, and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Az, arrive for a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System, Friday, April 18, 2014, in Phoenix. Last week's disclosures by current and former Department of Veterans Affairs employees is leading to investigations by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Inspector General for the VA are looking into not only the deaths, but allegations of falsified record keeping and medical reporting. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
HINES, IL - MAY 30: A sign marks the entrance to the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital on May 30, 2014 in Hines, Illinois. Hines, which is located in suburban Chicago, has been linked to allegations that administrators kept secret waiting lists at Veterans Administration hospitals so hospital executives could collect bonuses linked to meeting standards for rapid treatment. Today, as the scandal continued to grow, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki apologized in public and then resigned from his post. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Veterans Affairs Department is firing four senior executives as officials move to crack down on wrongdoing following a nationwide scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking medical care, and falsified records covering up the delays.

The dismissals are the first since Congress passed a law this summer making it easier for veterans who experience delays to get care outside VA's nationwide network of hospitals and clinics. The law also made it easier for the agency to fire senior officials suspected of wrongdoing, shortening their appeals process to 28 days.

Among those being fired are a top purchasing official at the Veterans Health Administration, directors of VA hospitals in Pittsburgh and Dublin, Georgia, and a regional hospital director in central Alabama.

Deputy VA secretary Sloan Gibson said Monday the VA will "actively and aggressively pursue disciplinary action" against any employee who violates VA rules or values.

"There should be no doubt that when we discover evidence of wrongdoing, we will hold employees accountable," Gibson said.

One of the employees being fired is Susan Taylor, the deputy chief procurement officer with the VHA who oversees $15 billion a year in federal contracts. A report by the VA's Office of Inspector General found that Taylor helped steer contracts to a private company that championed so-called reverse auctions, in which sellers compete with each other to offer the lowest bids.

Taylor advocated for the company, Virginia-based FedBid, and worked to discredit a senior VA official who had declared a moratorium on reverse auctions while the government studied them, the report said. She also "misused her position and VA resources" for FedBid's private gain and interfered with the inspector general's investigation, the report said.

Terry Gerigk Wolf, director of the Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System, is being fired for unspecified "conduct unbecoming a senior executive."

Wolf has been on paid leave since June after a VA review of a Legionnaire's disease outbreak between February 2011 and November 2012. At least six Pittsburgh VA patients died and 16 were sickened by the bacterial disease that was traced to water treatment problems at the Pittsburgh-area hospitals, which also prompted congressional hearings.

James Talton, director of the Central Alabama VA Healthcare System, is being fired following an investigation by the VA's Office of Accountability Review substantiated allegations of neglect of duty.

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