VA One Step Closer to Removing Controversial Procurement Chief

A hospital overseen by the Veterans Health Administration, where Taylor works. A hospital overseen by the Veterans Health Administration, where Taylor works. Veterans Affairs Department file photo

Deputy Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson, in a move presaged by a damning inspector general report last week, on Monday announced that he is recommending removal of Susan Taylor, the Veterans Health Administration’s deputy chief procurement officer. Taylor was found to have committed multiple ethics violations related to her work with the private reverse auction firm FedBid.

“The proposed removal of the DCPO underscores VA’s commitment to hold leaders accountable and get veterans the care they need,” the department said in a statement. The move appears intended to reflect the decisiveness on senior executives’ performance promised by newly installed Secretary Robert McDonald in the wake of recent scandals over treatment of veterans at medical centers.

In a Sept. 26 report, VA Assistant Inspector General for Investigations James O’Neill substantiated that Taylor “engaged in conduct prejudicial to the government when she pressured contracting staff under her authority to give preference to and award a task order for reverse auction services to FedBid Inc.”

The IG added: “We also found that she engaged in a conflict of interest when she improperly acted as an agent of FedBid in matters before the government, improperly disclosed non-public VA information to unauthorized persons, misused her position and VA resources for private gain, and engaged in a prohibited personnel practice when she recommended that a subordinate senior executive service employee be removed from [the SES] during her probation period, as Ms. Taylor identified the subordinate as the person she suspected of making protected disclosures of Ms. Taylor’s ethic violations.”

To ensure continuity, VA announced Monday that Ricky Lemmon, director of Service Area Office Central, has been tapped as acting deputy procurement and logistics officer.

Taylor will have five days to reply to the recommendation for her removal, a VA spokeswoman said. 

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