Late Breaking News
GAO: VA Pay Bonuses Not Linked Enough to Performance
WASHINGTON — The Pittsburgh hearing comes after a GAO report found that VHA’s oversight “is inadequate to ensure that medical centers comply with performance pay and award requirements.”
As part of its review, GAO examined performance pay and award documents for approximately 25 providers from VAMCS medical centers in Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle and Togus, ME. The GAO found that performance pay was awarded to all eligible providers reviewed at the medical centers, including five providers who had actions taken against them related to clinical performance that year.
“The related provider performance issues included failing to read mammograms and other complex images competently, practicing without a current license and leaving residents unsupervised during surgery,” the report stated.
In its review, GAO pointed out that VA’s performance pay policy gives the 152 medical centers and 21 networks discretion in setting the goals providers must achieve to receive this pay but does not specify an overarching purpose that the goals should support.
Therefore, VHA “does not have reasonable assurance that the goals make a clear link between performance pay and providers’ performance,” GAO investigators wrote in the report.
The GAO also stated that VA’s policy “is unclear about how to document certain decisions related to performance pay.”
“For example, the policy does not provide clear guidance on what to document regarding whether a provider’s performance-related action should result in the reduction or denial of the provider’s performance pay. In contrast to the performance pay policy, VA’s performance award policy clearly states the purpose of these awards — specifically, that they are to recognize sustained performance of providers beyond normal job requirements as reflected in the provider’s most recent performance rating.”
In response to the findings, VHA agreed with GAO’s recommendations, including that it should clarify the overarching purpose of performance pay.
“A policy change is being developed (and coordinated with the VHA) that will clearly articulate the purpose of performance pay under VA’s physician and dentist pay system,” VHA wrote in an attached response.