VA chief Bob McDonald holds a town hall meeting in Washington. McDonald has promised to hold executives accountable for misconduct.

VA chief Bob McDonald holds a town hall meeting in Washington. McDonald has promised to hold executives accountable for misconduct. Veterans Affairs Department

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Controversial VA Procurement Executive Resigns Before She Can Be Fired

VA says it had no way to stop Susan Taylor, accused of conflict of interest, from retiring.

The Veterans Health Administration procurement chief recently accused of improperly favoring a private contractor notified the Veterans Affairs Department on Monday that she is retiring, effective immediately.

Susan Taylor’s move comes amid pressure on the VA from lawmakers to accelerate the termination process for executives found to have engaged in misconduct. The VA on Oct. 6 had proposed Taylor’s removal.

VA’s inspector general found that Taylor, deputy chief procurement officer of the Veterans Health Administration Procurement and Logistics Office, had a conflict of interest in promoting the work of FedBid, a Vienna, Va.-based company offering reverse auctions. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., a longtime critic of the VA, on Sept. 29 asked newly installed VA Secretary Robert McDonald to terminate her.

“When evidence of wrongdoing is discovered, VA will continue to use all authorities at its disposal to hold employees accountable and take action as quickly as legally possible,” a VA spokeswoman said in a statement emailed Tuesday. “It is important to note in the case of a retirement-eligible employee who retires after receiving notice of proposed adverse action, VA has no legal authority to stop the employee from retiring or prevent the retirement from taking effect before the removal takes effect.”

She added that “nationally, there are over 100 ongoing investigations at VA facilities by the IG, the Department of Justice, the Office of Special Counsel and others. In each case, we look forward to receiving the results so that we can take appropriate disciplinary actions when the investigations are complete, when we have the evidence, and when we know the facts.”