| WASHINGTON, July 22
WASHINGTON, July 22 U.S. President Barack
Obama's nominee to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs
pledged on Tuesday to bring corporate-style discipline and
accountability to the troubled agency plagued by healthcare
delays and accusations of mismanagement and fraud.
Bob McDonald, the former chief executive officer of Procter
& Gamble Co, the world's largest manufacturer of
household products, told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee
that he would work to reorganize the VA to deliver care more
efficiently to veterans.
In a confirmation hearing brimming with corporate management
buzzwords, McDonald said he would immerse himself in the VA's
operations and devise ways to focus each of the department's
341,000 employees on its core mission of serving veterans.
"In order to retain the trust of the American people, and
most importantly, veterans, we must ensure every employee has an
action plan in their annual performance review that rolls up to
the strategic plan and the mission of the department," he said.
He also told senators he would give them his cellphone
number and encouraged them to use it, adding that as P&G's CEO,
his phone was turned on "24 hours a day."
McDonald, 61, was nominated to replace Eric Shinseki, who
resigned as VA secretary in late May amid a scandal over the
coverup of delays in scheduling medical appointments at dozens
of VA hospitals and clinics across the country.
In Phoenix, doctors have said that some 40 veterans died as
their names languished on secret waiting lists while officials
misrepresented wait-time data to meet targets for bonus
Shinseki, a retired four-star Army general, had said that he
had not been made aware of the wait-time problems until the
scandal boiled over in the media this year, amid dozens of
investigations by the VA inspector general.
Asked how he would avoid the same situation, McDonald said
he would get out of the executive suite and visit many of the
department's 1,700 facilities to help improve their
communication with the Washington head office.
"You don't want people in your community lying. You don't
tolerate them lying," he said.
There was no animosity from senators at the hearing, after
which Senator Bernie Sanders, the chairman of the Senate
Veterans Affairs Committee, predicted that McDonald would win
confirmation in the full Senate by next week. Several senators
implored him to use his business experience to change the VA's
"You are about to take over a bankrupt corporation," said
Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut. "The
threat is financial, but the real insolvency is in morality of
McDonald, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at
West Point in 1975 and served five years as an Army officer,
joined Procter & Gamble in 1980, working his way up the
corporate ladder to become CEO in 2009. He retired last year.
He said the VA needed better forecasting of the demand for
its services and promised to improve the department's
information technology, including its archaic scheduling system.
(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Jan Paschal)