2 high-ranking VA officials demoted amid allegations they manipulated agency’s …

21 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

2 VA officials demoted amid job-manipulation allegations.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two high-ranking officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs were demoted Friday in response to allegations that they manipulated the agency’s hiring system for their own gain. The VA said in a statement that Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves were demoted from senior executives — the highest rank for career employees — to general workers within the Veterans Benefits Administration. The VA’s acting inspector general says in a report that Rubens and Graves forced lower-ranking regional managers to accept job transfers against their will. Agency officials have not yet said if they will be asking her to repay the relocation allowance she received when she moved from Virginia to Philadelphia.

In September, officials with the VA Office of the Inspector General accused Rubens of manipulating the agency’s hiring system by forcing a lower-ranking official out of their position and then filling it, allowing her to be closer to family, all while keeping her salary of $180,000 as she assumed a job with fewer responsibilities. Before taking the regional jobs, Rubens was a deputy undersecretary at the VA’s Washington headquarters, while Graves was director of VBA’s 14-state North Atlantic Region. Pritz Navaratnasingam, the previous head of the Houston regional benefits office, was also noted in the report for receiving a pay raise and approximately $80,000 in relocation expenses when he moved to take over the Seattle office. The Washington Examiner reports that Graves and Rubens will both receive pay cuts, but will still be able to claim moving expenses as they relocate to their new, albeit lower-ranked positions.

Graves was called before a congressional panel hearing at the start of November after being subpoenaed to appear, and hit the headlines when she took the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination.

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