Federal Practice Group Worldwide Service founding partner Debra D'Agostino was recently reached for comment on the current case of two embattled Department of Veterans Affairs executives. The executives, Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves, were recently found guilty of manipulating the VA hiring process for personal gain, but avoided penalties due to the administrative court’s recognition that other VA executives have acted similarly. Rubens and Graves have now returned to their positions, but lawmakers and other VA officials are pushing to pursue new penalties for the offenses.
Regardless of the technicalities that allowed Rubens and Graves to dodge penalties and keep their jobs, Attorney D'Agostino still believes that the rulings send a clear message that the VA needs to enforce stricter protocols and handle disciplinary matters itself. "That’s really the agency’s burden—they have to treat everyone equally and if they don’t they have to lay out the reasons why," she told Stars and Stripes. "The VA botched it up again."
Specifically, Rubens and Graves were found guilty of transferring subordinates out of positions they wanted for themselves—and then pocketing relocation benefits. The administrative investigation found that they were not the only VA executives that engaged in this practice.