Bob McDonald – the right person to lead Veterans Affairs

Article originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on August 4, 2014.

Last Tuesday, Bob McDonald, the former chairman and CEO of Proctor and Gamble, was confirmed by the Senate as the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He starts his job at an organization whose reputation has been seriously damaged. His appointment comes none too soon.

Wait times at VA hospitals have been unacceptably long and records have been falsified to hide delays in treatment. Veterans have died due to these delays. A whistleblower has charged that at one VA hospital, veterans who have died were reported as still living in order to hide the number of deaths at the facility. The list of poor and deceptive management practices could go on and on. One can imagine the low morale of VA’s doctors, nurses and other staff members who come to work each day to properly serve their patients.

The goal of VA should be to provide prompt and responsive medical care. Even though the VA is a government agency, it should still be held to the same high standards as are hospitals in the private sector. VA leadership tolerated poor delivery of care. They were tone-deaf. Clearly, something was very wrong with the tone at the top and institutional culture at Veterans Affairs. A new leader was needed at VA.

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