By Debbie Gregory.
Mike Missal, President Obama’s nominee for Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general said that if he is confirmed, one of his top goals will be improving the treatment of whistleblowers in the VA.
The Washington, D.C. attorney, who specializes in government enforcement and internal investigations, testified to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee that he will ensure whistleblowers who come forward in the troubled agency will have their identities concealed and be protected from reprisal.
“If confirmed, one of my goals will be to promote an improved environment in which whistleblowers have confidence that their concerns will be fairly and effectively considered by the Office of Inspector General and that their identities will be protected from disclosure,” Missal said.
Missal would fill a key position at the VA that has been vacant since the previous inspector general at the VA stepped down in December 2013. The acting IG, Deputy Inspector General Richard Griffin, retired on July 4th.
The new IG will be faced with investigating an agency with a history of widespread data manipulation, management relocation schemes used to skirt rules on pay raises and massive construction cost overruns.
He told lawmakers that his inspiration for working at the VA was his deceased father, who served in Europe with the Army 286th Engineer Combat Battalion during World War II.
Missal said he recognizes “the great frustration in VA not fully meeting its mission” and vowed to work with lawmakers in finding ways to fix those problems.
“This is a particularly critical time for VA as it attempts to rebuild the trust and confidence it has lost from our veterans, Congress, veterans service organizations and the American public,” said attorney Mike Missal, who previously worked as senior counsel on a number of federal and congressional investigations.
Senators gave no indication during the hearing that Missal’s nomination will face any opposition. A full Senate vote on Missal’s nomination is expected before the end of the year.