VA Fires Head of DC Facility Amid Confidentiality Breach, Leadership Concerns Says Veterans Attorney Jim Fausone

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Legal Help for Veterans is a law firm helping veterans get the benefits they deserve.

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) September 14, 2017 - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) fired the longtime director of its main veterans medical center in Washington, D.C.

Brian Hawkins was dismissed due to growing concerns about his leadership of the VA facility. The VA released a statement saying “he failed to provide effective leadership.” Hawkins was reassigned to a different post within the agency in April pending further review. Retired Army Col. Lawrence Connell has served as the hospital’s acting director since then.

“The disciplinary action taken against Brian Hawkins reiterates the fact that the VA is now more committed to enhancing accountability in the department,” commented Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “Both VA employees and leaders should face the appropriate consequences if they put veterans at the risk of harm and are not aligned with the VA’s mission.”

Hawkins’ departure followed several months of investigations by the VA Office of Inspector General. Audits found evidence of mismanagement at the facility. The hospital’s patients were endangered by poor inventory practices and organizational dysfunction.

The VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal released the findings of an internal probe in April. His report documented “the highest levels of chaos” at the Washington, D.C. medical center, including large-scale medical supply shortages and unsanitary conditions in equipment storage areas.

The VA had an even bigger cause for concern when its internal watchdog made public another report in June. It revealed that Hawkins had emailed “sensitive” information about administrative decisions and VA staff to his wife’s personal account. She is not a VA employee. According to the report, the emails were a breach of the department’s rules on data confidentiality.

Hawkins was fired after the inspector general’s office recommended new disciplinary action be taken against him. Missal was unable to prove separate accusations of Hawkins trying to obstruct an investigation into staff bonuses that he authorized “without proper justification.” The report, however, said his employees delayed providing certain documents related to the probe.

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