Harvard Business Review Got VA Sec McDonald Legacy Wrong

54

VA Sec McDonald

Harvard Business Review published yet another piece lauding the successes of VA Sec McDonald that should cement his great successes if accurate.

To the public, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald has achieved limited success in changing the course of VA. Despite moves to improve customer experiences, reports from veterans show the agency is slow to embrace the iCare values including increasing accountability for criminal senior leaders the agency refuses to terminate.

Still, McDonald received prime treatment from Harvard after President-elect Donald Trump was elected by publishing two articles highlighting VA’s assertion that the agency is getting better fast and that veterans should not be allowed 100% choice.

Articles and reports from high-minded institutions like Harvard and RAND like this are frequently cited by union-friendly publications that support VA expansion.

One example is a recent Washington Post article titled, VA progress, despite contrary Republican rhetoric, that spins the reports without assessing them:

Harvard Business School case study, published in November and updated this month, concludes that the team assembled by VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald has “made impressive progress over the past year.” In July, a literature review in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found “the VA often (but not always) performs better than or similarly to other systems of care with regard to the safety and effectiveness of care.”

Neither article is a blanket endorsement of VA health care, which remains tainted by the scandal that erupted in 2014 over the covering up of long patient wait times. Neither article deals with the many cases of management retaliation against VA whistleblowers, who exposed much of the wrongdoing. Yet each shows the nation’s largest integrated health-care system performs far better than Republican rhetoric indicates. Just in the past few days, GOP Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), called for new agency leadership as they told President-elect Donald Trump “it is clear that not all veterans are receiving the high-quality care they deserve.”

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich used spiteful language when he asked whether federal employees “who kill veterans should stay in their jobs.”

The wait list was “Republican rhetoric”? Concern over the dead veterans was Republican rhetoric”? The “rhetoric” here about those topics is veteran-centric, and Democrats should be ashamed they were not onboard, and that the scandals like the disability backlog and the wait list fraud occurred on President Obama’s watch.

Apparently, Washington Post’s audience, or at least the one Davidson was writing for, is not familiar with the reports he cited or the real experience from veterans on a daily basis.

First, the case study and later Harvard article I address here cite erroneous information or mischaracterizations to support that VA made impressive progress under McDonald.

Second, the Internal Medicine journal is actually citing a RAND study I previously ripped apart for using pre-2010 datasets as proof that VA healthcare is better presently. How absurd, but today’s drive-by main-stream media and its journalists apparently read no further than the title.

What we know is our dinosaur Veteran Service Organizations are pushing Trump to keep McDonald. Some suspect a backroom deal was struck in February to push this agenda forward.

RELATED: Some Vets Suspect Backroom Deal To Keep McDonald

The plan McDonald implemented is a 10-year plan rather than a more sensible 2-year or 4-year plan meaning his overall reform platform is presently half-baked.

Now, why would someone implement a 10-year plan knowing his tenure is likely only 2 years? Don’t get me wrong, I hope some of his reforms work out, and I discuss this below.

But did it make sense to push forward with a 10-year plan? Was this initiative based on the erroneous assumption Hillary Clinton would win the election?

The answers here are no, it did not make sense, and yes, McDonald and the White House (that ultimately approved his plan) thought Clinton was a shoe-in.

Double oops.

[But be sure to tweet this out by pressing the below button so Harvard has a chance to reconsider its positions on some erroneous assertions about McDonald.]

@ryanbuell @HarvardBiz FYI Harvard Business Review got it wrong on McDonald and #VeteransAffairs… Click to Tweet

Harvard On McDonald

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) article in question covers some of the scandals plaguing the agency including the wait list scandal. It also highlights numerous improvements of which the public is largely unaware.

But straight away, the HBR author, Professor Ryan Bruell, makes a fatal misstep affecting the credibility of the article.

HBR credits McDonald’s successes by his decision to follow strategies outlined by John Kotter in his eight steps for effective organizational change.

Then, the highlights noted were:

READ: HRB Article On VA Sec Robert McDonald Successes

Unfortunately, two of the first successes are mischaracterizations misattributed to McDonald’s reign as VA Secretary leading me to wonder if the article is more of a public affairs puff piece intended to cement McDonald’s legacy before President-elect Donald Trump makes substantial reforms.

Could it be anything other than this?

The remainder of the article highlights various steps McDonald implemented to improved the agency. You can read that for yourself.

Instead, I feel the need to get the record straight on the above assertions HBR provides as proofs allegedly showing VA is improving under McDonald’s VA reforms.

Backlog Drops By 90% Under McDonald?

Can and should McDonald really assert this as his success?

The program linked to the backlog fix started much earlier. And, its implementation resulted in a new appeals backlog due to agency adjudicators focusing on speed of processing rather than accuracy.

This was a FAIL, not a success.

First, Veterans Benefits Administration has engaged a decades-long plan to revitalize the agencies disability compensation system. For years, VA executives cited a transition to electronic records processing through Virtual Benefits Management System (VBMS) as the silver bullet.

RELATED: VBMS Cost Taxpayers $1.3 Billion

A claims backlog of 1 million claims earned the agency a ton of bad press. When the press grew politically inconvenient for the White House in 2014, the agency came up with a new plan. Push all the claims through as quickly as possible regardless of accuracy.

So, while the backlog of initial claims may be down by 90%, the new backlog of appeals is now gumming up the system. To fix this new backlog, VA and some veteran organizations are pushing to reform laws that will restrict certain veterans rights on appeals.

RELATED: VA Plan To Eliminate Appeals Backlog

Create the problem you already have a solution for. Agency insiders have wanted to reform the regulations for years, the unwieldy appeals backlog created by previous agency bungling with VBMS created just the backlog appeals rights reforms advocates needed.

And, McDonald did not “fix” the backlog. That ad hoc plan was already in place for many years. Instead, he is merely presiding over the appeals backlog his agency created.

In fact, prior to resigning, Secretary Eric Shinseki announced he fixed the backlog.

VA Healthcare Better Than Private Healthcare According To RAND?

RAND, the known shills of agency bureaucrats who can craft any study to create the result sought by its funders, say VA healthcare is better than private sector care.

Is this true? And, if it is true, is this a success McDonald can claim?

No and no.

I revealed the dirty side of RAND’s sham study in my article, ‘New’ RAND Study On VA Healthcare A Bait And Switch Sham. The data in the RAND study held out by pro-VA advocates as a sign of great success, but was it?

This one earns not just a “no,” but a “hells no.”

The RAND study was a regurgitation of pre-2010 research data but was held out to be a sign that VA healthcare was presently better than private sector care. The data evaluated in the studies was created between 1985 and 2009.

So how can this study be used to evaluate the quality and efficacy of present VA healthcare? It cannot.

The assertion highlighted by HBR was plainly a mischaracterization of the study, but that did not stop the main stream media and Harvard from citing RAND’s sham study as proof that veterans are better off inside the VA system instead of opting for the Veterans Choice Program model Trump likes.

Same Day VA Healthcare?

What on earth will this look like? I have no comment on it other than I hope VA intends to provide the precise kind of healthcare veterans need on the same day they request it.

The goal was set for December 31, 2016 for all VA medical centers to provide same day care services. I guess we will see if they accomplish this goal.

Two Changes I Like If They Last

There are two changes I like. Since McDonald took over, his senior staff did respond more to veterans than in the past. Under former Secretary Shinseki, senior staff was impossible to reach. Now, they will reach out to veterans in some instances. That is a good thing.

According to HBR, McDonald is also changing the organization from its previous rules based operation to being values based. Basically, VA was really run by the Office of General Counsel until McDonald took over. This resulted in all issues by resolved by attorneys rather than applying common sense.

The problem with this model is that it ground down decisionmaking to a halt. And, it turned those working on frontlines into fearful button pushers rather than employees capable of making decisions in a thoughtful manner.

Over-reliance on policy and rules for each and every decision while removing common sense is a platform highlighted to shut down corporations within the CIA manual Simple Sabotage, so it makes sense that the agency was essentially impotent under these policies.

CIA published the manual in 2012 and referenced its lessons as “timeless tips.” A quick read of the manual reveals numerous practices used by the agency including promoting bad employees over good employees and creating multiple steps when one step would do.

Instead of sabotage, HBR says McDonald moved the agency in the direction of following values while unshackling frontline employees to allow them to make decisions rather than being afraid of doing so.

This could be a good change so long as the right people are mandating the right values. But what happens if a fascist or communist is in charge?

Cementing McDonald’s Legacy

The article is an interesting read if for no other reason than to highlight the fight to cement McDonald’s legacy as being one who reformed the agency.

HBR falls short in evaluating the claims of success and in so doing make the article fall short in the eyes of my readers who are well educated on agency problems.

The data points HBR uses to highlight the great successes do not line up. RAND is a farce. Shinseki claimed he fixed the backlog prior to resigning. The remainder success of the same day care by the end of 2016 has not even happened yet.

So what is the great success(es)? I acknowledge many transformations have come into fruition under McDonald, but was he responsible for them? Or, were these transformations already in the pipeline?

I cannot help but be suspicious about his assertions of success given his repeated false assertions.

Remember when McDonald told a homeless veteran he was in the Special Forces?

What about the time McDonald told Congress he fired over one thousand offending VA employees when the correct number was 3?

RELATED: Veterans Affairs Secretary Still Bad At Math

In 2015, I highlighted the following exchange at a Senate hearing on Veterans Affairs that should be insightful between McDonald and Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga):

Recently, McDonald looked clueless in front of a Senate Committee while trying to claim he is responsible for firing over a hundred thousand, “We’ve terminated over 140,000.” Senator Johnny Isakson called him out.

McDonald then stated he terminated 1,800 dysfunctional employees linked to the wait list scandal. He shifted his number to 1,400 – then back to 1,755 – then down to 755.

Really? I know very few people who could mistake 3 people for 140,000 people.

At that point in the testimony, Senator Isakson gave Bob McDonald a pass, “I’m not good with numbers either.” McDonald may be a lot of things, but an engineer is clearly not one of them.

I accept that the agency has implemented some good changes overall. I even agree that VA Sec McDonald is responsible for some good changes.

But why were two of the three examples cited by Harvard Business Review completely erroneous mischaracterizations used to support present successes of McDonald?

Source: https://hbr.org/2016/12/a-transformation-is-underway-at-u-s-veterans-affairs-we-got-an-inside-look

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
namnibor
namnibor

Nothing but a VA Public Affairs “puff piece” and butthurt snowflakes at Harvard wanting McDonald to remain on as VA Secretary.
This “puff piece” by Harvard Business Review is an over-baked casserole of LIES. The Obama Administration more than likely pushed this VA public affairs meat grinder flatulence through the cupcake and snowflake network of ring-smackers with their never-ending cases of Trumphobia.

Lies, all lies. McDonald making a 10 year plan for reform when he had 2 years to make meaningful change was I am sure entirely by design to AVOID hurting the butthurt AFGE.

Pres. Elect Trump, PLEASE order one massive enema for the VA from top to bottom of the meat grinder and DO NOT KEEP McDONALD AS VA SEC. A pet rock would be more effective as it were.

VAISLYING INC
VAISLYING INC

VA DC HQ @ FAKE RANGER BOB @ AFGE UNION CONTRACTS NEED TO GO IT WILL BE A LLEGAL FIGHT IN THE COURTS TO DECRTIFY THE AFGE UNION CONTRACTS POTUS TRUMPER IF THIS DOESNT HAPPEN THE AFGE UNION WILL KEEP FLIPPING THE FINGER TO ALL VETS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

Well, let’s start with Harvard University. Isn’t this that “Left-wing RADICAL butthurt liberal crybaby Democrat Party Educational System” Obama went to? Isn’t it the same university no one can see his transcript?
There’s been lots of bad press coming out on that university.

Now, let’s look at “Washington Post”! This butthurt RADICAL libertard snowflake news rag” was actually, in emails from Wikileaks, caught ‘red-handed’ asking Podesta if the articles written, by their slugs, were OK to print! (ANTI)Journalism at its finest!

Now for the “RAND CORPORATION”! Another Leftist organization not willing to tell the truth.

So, there y’all have it. “Left-wing RADICAL butthurt liberal Democrat LIARS” all in one basket.
I apologize for the “basket” remark. It would really be more like a trash can! Or, maybe more like a “SHIT CAN”!

namnibor
namnibor

I am proud to be a “deplorable basket case” and general thorn in the ass of these butthurt snowflakes. Proud!!

Seymore Klearly
Seymore Klearly

Hey Elf,

Have to agree with you on that Harvard thing. Personally I found that some one Harvard educated is some one less likely to have a quality education.

In 2005 I took part in a competition that included competing against a tenured professor at Harvard who taught in the field we were competing in. A field that I had no formal education or training in. Smoked his butt right from the getgo. Turned out he even had a class of Harvard PhD candidates working with him in the competition but they could not even come close to real world knowledge.

They are totally lost in a Textbook world at Harvard just like McDonald is totally lost in his Disneyland Adventure at the VA.

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

Here’s a video I believe everyone should google. I’ve written about it before, only I don’t believe, in my opinion, many were taking it seriously.
The video is titled;

“Breaking: Obama Bans Free Speech In The Dead Of Night”

Posted 26 Dec 2016 (13:46 minutes)
In this video, Alex Jones describes how all communications are now under attack by the federal government. Unless, of course, those medias “kow-tao” to the government’s agenda.

By signing into law HR-5181, he’s giving the security agencies, and in particularly the CIA, the power over the FCC. Thereby, allowing these security agencies to say what one can write or say or video tape.
If y’all want the “full version”, google this;

“POWERGRAB; Obama Signs Bill Federalizing All Media”

This video is 48:58 minutes long. It’s more detailed.

I believe these two videos coincide, or are in tandem, with what Ben wrote today. How a few libertard news agencies, and Harvard, are putting out “fake news” to get their agenda pushed through, ie; keep McDipshit, and others, in charge of VA.
On the other side of the spectrum, what else are they wanting? What sinister plot are they planning against the United States of America? Is our “Constitutional Republic Representatives” going to allow this ‘power play’ to continue? What can be done to stop it?

Rosebud
Rosebud

This looks like fake news from what I saw.

Bill
Bill

I dont give a shit about his or any other members of the evil empire. Your article just proves that veterans choice should ve just that a chiice made by veterans instead of playing mother may I with the crime family.

91Veteran
91Veteran

I agree. Someone commented here about the VAs FY2017 budget and how the Choice funding is being used for other VA fantasies.

Can someone provide a link to that information?

I would really like to know how the VA is misusing money appropriated for Choice for other crap, like facilities or buildings.

I did see in the comment that the VA was using Choice funding to hire more worthless bureaucracy. One would think with the slugs they have hired that Choice would be a finely tuned operation rather than the disaster it is.

You also have to ask whether Congress approved hiring permanent staff to administer Choice, with that Choice funding only supposedly being temporary. I highly doubt those staff are let go if that funding is lost.

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

91Veteran,
I remember something a while back, the monies from the “Choice Program” was being used for the immigrants coming in. I could be wrong, but don’t think so!

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

@91Veteran,
I think Seymore put something on here about that over the weekend or late last week.

namnibor
namnibor

I recall that about a portion of the Choice $$ also being used for Syrian Refugees, of which, just yesterday the POTUS issued yet another Executive Order that the USA in 2017 will accept an additional 110,000+ Syrian Refugees.
What that tells me is the Choice Program is serving as a SLUSH FUND for other crap…literally.
Just imagine what Obama has up his sleeves for the next 3 weeks? I foresee many more thuglets being released from prison early and maybe even a mandatory mosque in every city…wait for it…Obama is not done throwing his poo at the USA…

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

Seymore,
I just found this today. It’s about “Project Mockingbird” of the 1950’s!
There’s two great articles out explaining how it works.
(This goes hand-in-hand with what Alex Jones and Ben wrote on how Americans are being deceived by the MSM and other publications.)
#1.)
“CIA Reinstituted Secret Government Program: Project Mockingbird!”

from; “Conservative Zone”
27 Dec 2016
Quote: “Find out why ‘Project Mockingbird’ has suddenly become a reinvigorated CIA program and what it means for you and your family in today’s letter from the editor!”

The second article, or ‘letter from the editor’, is even more damaging. In so far as it shows, with little regards to our Constitutional Republic and our Bill of Rights our Freedom of Speech *IS* under attack by the “LEFT”!

#2.)
“Is America Turning Towards Chinese-Style Censorship?”

Ben wrote today how a few (government) Leftist run entities are curtailing the truth about what’s truly occurring within the VA. By lying to the American people, veterans and the Congress, it’s purpose is to keep the ‘cash flow’ going into a failed agency.
These “alleged security agencies” have, for years, been trying hard to de-legitamize our way of receiving truthful news. Have they succeeded? From what we’ve read this morning, the answer is, or could be, a resounding YES!
Only, it’s up to “Patriots” to de-legitamize the false narratives of these posers. As did Thomas Jefferson and others during the time of the signing of the “Declaration of Independence” in 1776! Or, also, how Thomas Paine wrote in his glaring condemnation of the British Empire in “Common Sense”!
Quote, “When my country, into which I had just set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. It was time for every man to stir!” – Thomas Paine in 1788!
I leave it up to all good men. Do you want to allow this criminal behavior to continue?

NavInfPO6
NavInfPO6

BEN: Another fantastic article.

In an attempt to fight this system, I have emailed the Secretary of The VA and additionally, my local VA clinic, many factual statements I have found on your site. NO names were used, nothing stated about where the information came from. I have been told to “stop spamming” the VA.

I could post to this site but have found it far more beneficial to take the fight directly to the source that we all view as corrupt.

No doubt I am going to be red flagged by the entire system. At my age, I really don’t give a rip.

Please keep up the great work!!

91Veteran
91Veteran

I emailed McDonald periodically over a 9 month period on an issue I could not get resolved or even hear from anyone about it.
A FOIA response shows he took zero action on any of those emails other than a single email response to me in late May saying they would look into it.

His entire staff needs to be shown the door when McDonald is thrown out on his worthless ass.

Dennis
Dennis

Lolz, when you send it use your secure messaging and select “educational materials” as the topic. Lolz, I have an ipad app that converts websites to .pdf files and I have sent this page and others as “educational materials” to the Patient Advocate several times. They have warned me too but let me ask you; sending words to a federal agency is a use of the First Ammendment. I have copied them Supreme Court ruling and what the judges say about that also to the PA.

Keep beating the drum and when they say to stop, send two more. It is educational, and they do provide the means to send it. Do you think they can legally terminate it for sending educational materials as you see fit? I don’t.

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

Many on here have concerns over the corruption in VA, and right on down to their local governments.
So, in keeping with that in mind. Here’s a great video posted on Utube, Dec 9, 2016, where the citizens of Huntington Park, California “call out” their City Council’s illegal activities concerning their “Sanctuary City”!
Titled;

“Citizens Tell Sanctuary City Huntington Park Council Federal Funds To Be Revoked”

Published Dec. 9, 2016 – 12/6/16 Huntington Park, Calif. “http://hpca.gov/”

The citizens are calling out their City Council for allowing two illegal immigrants to hold positions on the HUD Commission.
They explain, in no uncertain terms, the City Council is in violation of federal and state laws.
They also explain, in no uncertain terms, the millions of taxpayers monies they received will, more likely than not, have to be repayed (going back ten years)!
Listen to the anger by the citizens of Huntington Beach, California expressed toward their local council………..
This will more than likely be repeated, in cities across America, many times in the future. Especially after 20 Jan 2017!

91Veteran
91Veteran

I really despise hacks like Harvard Biz, Ryan Buell, Robert Huckman, et. al., that are so lazy they refuse to dig into an issue any at all, and simply regurgitate what is fed to them.

Its as if they don’t give a shit what their reputation looks like to anyone other than those suggesting they write some fawning praise.

The problems in the VA gave gone on for years because they are spun by hacks into something that is flat out wrong. They could have easily surveyed just a few veterans to see what they were being fed by McDonald was BS.

And same day appointments? Hell I would be happy if I were hearing from veterans that they were getting their critically needed medicine within a week of requesting them.

Will this translate into McDonald keeping his job? I doubt it. Somehow I think Trump and his team will dig a little deeper than just reading some PR from some overpaid, pampered, Ivy League pointy heads.

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

91Veteran,
I read this morning, and took a poll, on the concerns over President Elect Trump’s “conflict of interest (on his non-profit)” being a reason to impeach him.
I harken to remind the MSM – “What about the Clinton Foundation?” There was definitely a “conflict of interest” between the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and that corrupt foundation!
The butthurt RADICAL libertard snowflake left-wing nuts” are stopping at nothing to discredit him.
Just now on WFTV channel 9 news @ noon, the attorney general of New York is investigating his university over some B/S!
Whether it comes to something or not remains to be seen!
By watching President Elect Trump’s demeanor I’d say he’s not worried at all.

91Veteran
91Veteran

The NY AGs office has been nothing more than leftist hacks clubbing anyone on the right since long before Elliott Spitzer was Client #9 and sucking hookers toes.

Nothing has changed. Nothing will until they are held accountable for misusing their office.

I believe the same NY AG was behind a scheme with other leftist AGs to hold corporations criminally liable for Global Warming. It blew up in their faces, and they all ran hard for the tall grass before they got any stink on them.

james gallegos
james gallegos

Claims Back log is still a back log. Deny claims, send to file room to await the veterans to appeal the denial, where VA it self advised the VA committee that 90 % of veterans will NOT refile and if they do, pull the file from the shelf, place it back on the desk for months.

Second stage deny the Claim again and tell the veterans we need more information, back to the shelf !

Or they may give the veterans a 0 percent disability, so they can start the process over again and if the veterans disagree with the claim and file again the VA will grant a 10% rating, so the veterans must reapply and reapply at 10% at a time, it would take a life time to receive a 100% rating.

Many veterans who are able to obtain a higher rating say 100%, that’s when the VA starts sending out letter, we have rescheduled you for a reexamination and then proceed to take away that rating, we have determined your condition has improved and you are now rated at 70% and continue to do reexaminations until the Veterans were cured and if you don’t agree with our finding please furnish proof and so we start all over again.

Shell game and were paying the price !

Employees fired by McDonald 0, the Union President would have kicked his Ass if he even tried. McDonald did not LIE about his service, He was just stretching the Truth. His staff was involved and at least one of his staff learned from this and stretched the truth about a Bad employee being Fired or no longer for the VA and when advised that that she had been lied to about the employee not working for the VA anymore. His staff member hung up and cut off all communication.

You taught Stephanie well Mr. Robert McDonald and your office has left an employee employed to further hurt veterans, yes he has done a crack up job. Hell make him President.

Pretty soon if its no being said now, Lying will become the American MOTO ! Not in GOD we Trust ! no one will believe nothing the United States says.

namnibor
namnibor

That photo of an exclamation expression of VA Sec. McDonald in today’s “Bad VA Art” should have a caption bubble coming from his mouth simply exclaiming, “Prostate exam? But VA Dr. I was supposedly sent to a nose, mouth & ear specialist!!”

Just trying to put words onto our incredibly ghostly VA Secretary’s expression…it says prostate exam all over it. 🙂

Dennis
Dennis

Here is a copy and paste with author credit from the Harvard Business Review.

Can anyone read this piece and not conclude HBR wants Trump to fail?

“…I will not pretend that this is an easy piece for me to write. I was absolutely certain that Hillary Clinton would not just win but win handily, and equally certain that Donald Trump, were he to be elected, would be a disaster as president, both because I disagreed with his policies and because I felt that his combination of erratic decision making and ignorance about the basics of government spelled nearly certain catastrophe… ” – Gautam Mukunda, Nov. 9, 2016, Harvard Business Review

They are setting him up as a failure and this published bit of “journalism” cannot be read any other way.

namnibor
namnibor

Amen. Regurgitated garbage in and garbage out at HBR. Silver Spooner Butthurt Snowflakes @ Harvard.

Dennis
Dennis

Indeed. His editors would not have published this if they did not agree. Neither would the ones that pay the bills have allowed this if they did not agree.

HBR is a de facto branch of the DNC recruitment division.

james gallegos
james gallegos

we get what we get, now I want to see Trump make a purse out of a pigs ear. Again were left hanging and wait and see.

I say flood his office with letters, e-mails from any veteran whom the VA has done wrong too !

Ron Nesler
Ron Nesler

Please note, it is very easy to post a comment on articles in the HBR. Hint, hint.

91Veteran
91Veteran

Good idea.

Rather than registering to post a comment there, I will respond here, and if someone wants to copy it there they are welcome to do so.

Buells entire article is such a rosy picture painted, I’m sure, with lots of help from McDonald. It might be easier to accept if it were not so contradictory.
Starting from the top…Buell mentions several times about the VA budget, underfunding, lacking resources, etc., but the VA budget, as he acknowledges has risen 87% under Obama, and is slated to be $183 billion. Given how much it has grown, it is not a lack of funding or resources that forced a vet to dial 911 while outside a VA entrance. It was a complete lack of respect, compassion or care shown by an agency that knows without a shadow of a doubt, cannot be held accountable. No amount of pontificating about resources, excellence programs with catchy phrases or other drivel will change that as long as the “leader” of the VA is unwilling to change that. It wasn’t a lack of resources that caused a dead veteran to be left in a VA shower for 9 hours. Both occurred with record VA budgets.
McDonald claims he replaced 14 of 17 leaders. Buell should stop being naive and ask for details on all 14. Were they fired? Demoted? Or just shuffled off to another position?
Buell suggests lack of resources resulted in the wait time scandal. No. Greed resulted in the wait time scandal, and the knowledge by upper VA managers that they would never be held accountable for the fraud they committed to obtain their bonuses by hiding their wait times.

Until the problem of the lack of accountability is addressed, no amount of dreaming about design changes will matter.

McDonald suggests he is such an effective leader by assembling a team and pairing people with entrenched bureaucrats. He also tossed around buzzwords like servant leadership, which is nauseating to someone who has had training in servant leadership and is a veteran enrolled in the VA.

There is NOTHING recognizable as servant leadership at any level of the VA. Buell would have more credibility in his writing if he got outside his bubble and actually studied this.

As for servant leadership, McDonald refuses to recognize so many on his leadership team have gotten that concept completely backwards. People like Burch running the worst veterans charity on record, Rubens and Graves serving themselves to significant amounts of travel funding, or Helman and her wait time fraud.

NONE were held accountable in any meaningful way. Certainly not in a way that indicates a change in culture or design of the agency.

Finally, the most laughable of this entire piece by Buell is the suggestion that McDonald “has their backs” of the employees in the VA. Buell would not look so much like a VA PR flack if he investigated some of the many whistle blowers in the VA, or those who have had their lives destroyed after blowing the whistle. Buell does mention Phoenix, but he doesn’t mention the whistle blowers who brought that scandal to light.

After reading Buells entire article, I can’t think of many other things I’ve read that were less factual or more pedestrian in detailing the topic, or just accepted good intentions as fact.

namnibor
namnibor

@91Veteran- “[Finally, the most laughable of this entire piece by Buell is the suggestion that McDonald “has their backs” of the employees in the VA]”

“Veterans First”…all the way in doublespeak. (sarcasm implied) and Redefined by VA and approved and certified by RAND and fellow Ring-Knockers that VA employees have no worries, we have your ratty backs.

91Veteran
91Veteran

His entire article is so misleading and devoid of reality that it’s clear it was not written for anyone actually getting care from the VA.

namnibor
namnibor

Right. In-fact, other than Benjamin and various dinosaur VSO’s, when’s the last time you ever heard/read where Veterans were actually interviewed to get a complete story? I would dare say not that very often and why is this? To protect that damn cookie jar and…I really do not think they care about Veterans. From a Freudian perspective, the VA’s iCARE very-well could be a projection of what they loathe. Or, it could also be Jungian Collective Consciousness of ratty rats just not caring. A bit of both.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

To All – There are five presidents who had no political experience before entering the White House. …

•Dwight D. Eisenhower
•Ulysses S. Grant
•William Howard Taft
•Herbert Hoover
•Zachary Taylor

So what’s wrong with President Elect D. J. Trump?

Rosebud
Rosebud

He’s a sleazy businessman who screws the little guy and doesn’t pay him for work completed. A real bully.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

@Rosebud – You better go and do some volunteer work in the sanctuary cities. The liberal Dems have been shoving the Dumbing Down of American down the throats of the American public for too dam long. Like Trump, we all have our own baggage including you and I! Hopefully, Trump will stir the GOP up and break up the Ole Boy Network.

91Veteran
91Veteran

Oy. I guess you get what you pay for.

If you search on Buell at HBR, you can find a list of his publications, many with a handy button you can click to add to your cart, like his publication on Improving Access at the VA.

Within his own article discussed here, he acknowledges the VA budget has increased 87% under Obama. If that’s the case, why is he still writing propaganda about improving access? An 87% increase should have done that, but instead, he cites needing adequate funding to not only continue VA improvement, but also to complete McDonald’s transformation.

Rather than continuing to publish opinions from breakfast to airlines, Buell and his band of hacks should study some publications from others at Harvard, specifically the one titled, “Health Care Needs Real Competition”.

Maybe then he can write another piece on why veterans only deserve the mediocrity of the VA, and not real competition.

Or he should read his publication on Transparency Drives Excellence, study the VA budgeting for Choice next year, and explain why so many millions are being spent on something other than health care for veterans. After all, he’s at a bidness skool.

windguy
windguy

Consider the source. I’ve met a twelve-pack of Harvard B’ School Rangers over my career. Every last one of them excelled at glad-handing and back-stabbing. I have scars as proof. These cats are trained to be weasels. Clever, well-polished weasels. While Bush Jr. was better known as a Yale-bag, he was also a Harvard B’School Boy. Then there’s Harvard Law – which gave us Obama – a constitutional lawyer who carried on Bush’s whittling away at rights.

OK – I’ll give Harvard Medical and Harvard Divinity a pass on blanket smear-age.

Edward L Robinson Jr.
Edward L Robinson Jr.

Excellent article Ben. But what do you expect from Harvard University & The Rand Corporation. They’re both stool pigeon for the “deep government ” of the U.S.A.

namnibor
namnibor

I was just talking with my now-moving neighbor across the hall, whom happens to be a healthcare professional and she told me they just lost a wonderful Cancer Dr. to go work at the VA, even after all the horror stories, even after the VA’s own Choice Program denied so many Veterans comprehensive radiation treatment in his dept., and she told me he left for the VA because he would not have to see many patients, hours were better than banker’s, the pay and perks and no need for fear of malpractice lawsuits…yes, he said that…so tell me, Sec. McDonald just how the HELL is this attracting the very best when you promise good Dr.’s coming to VA they would not have to deal with as many patients and no accountability as far as malpractice and also that little thing about not required to be certified in any State a healthcare professional works in at the VA? How? Do the VA Dr.’s not need to be bothered with seeing so many patients because of wait times or is it that non-supervised used of Medical Residents and Nursing Staff? How?
I am betting the Harvard Business Review could spin that shit into caramel cotton candy, never mind the smell. 🙂

namnibor
namnibor

Speaking of smells, New Year’s cabbage steeping I smell in the air?

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

@namnibor,
Yep, seems like we always get at least one bad smell coming in from the left.
Stick around, it’ll probably get worse in the coming days and weeks. Can’t leave rotten Cabbage out. It’ll do nothing but fester into something worse.

namnibor
namnibor

It’s steeping this morning as well. Way beyond Kimchee fermentation, old world style, buried in muck earth below a bridge somewhere. You are right, the trolls are so butthurt that in coming few weeks it’s going to be swamp monster apocalypse.

I have heard and read where the BLM and other Soros backed butthurt snowflake thuglets are planning a huge protest in D.C. on inauguration day. I also read and heard that a HUGE amount of bikers from across the USA will be there to protect the inauguration from these butthurt snowflakes. Such fragile snowflakes. Hillary Flakes. McDuck Flakes.

Ex va
Ex va

@Namnibor, you are right on, the majority of the va doctors are hand picked. They talk about knowing someone to help them get in. They know the gravy train they get to ride if they get hired in the va system. If you want to be a physician that actually gives good care to veterans most of the service lines do not want that physician in a medical center. The good doctors are carrying their panels and other doctors as well. Also, they try to burn out a good physician and bog him down with ridiculous rules. I found few providers who wanted to give good care working in a service line. The ones who cared eventually had to fall in line to the politics of the place and that is to not provide service to Veterans and to discourage that idea of it.

namnibor
namnibor

The hypocrisy also in that situation I posted is, that “great” Comprehensive Radiation Cancer Dr. (high $ Specialists) left one of the most advanced cancer research hospitals in existence, and also left for the VA while knowing full-well, experiencing over last year and half many Veterans being referred by the VA’s Choice Program to that advanced comprehensive radiation cancer treatment were being referred and using Choice because the VA’s own cancer treatments are NO WHERE NEAR the advances in the private sector…YET, that “great” Dr. went to the VA, a very backwards step in his profession…WHY?
I will tell you why. The VA utilizes the lack of accountability to attract those without integrity in the first place, or very little.
Sorry so long, but I wanted to stress this real-world example of how the VA is portrayed as an easy cruise on the V.A. Titanic. Rant Out.

namnibor
namnibor

Also, I meant to say that many of those Veterans referred by Choice for treatment in his dept. were ultimately denied treatment/care because of either lack of communication, pricing, and primarily denied because the Choice Program would screw authorizations up by never Faxing or doing what they said they would. All from a neighbor that when I told this health professional about the Vet in Oklahoma VAMC where he dies and medical staff leave his body where it had been “stored” in a shower for 9+ hours, she was appalled and said if that happened in private sector a pack of attorneys would be clawing at each other to get in on the huge malpractice windfall and mass firing of all responsible….but not at the VA.
Ok…now rant out.

91Veteran
91Veteran

Not defending a VA doctor by any stretch, but I wonder how many go to the VA because of what they face in the private sector. State and federal regulations, billing, scheduling, dealing with insurance companies, malpractice, much stronger continuing education requirements, dealing with Obamacare, etc.

They can skip all that and go to the VA where they can work a 9-5 job and either ignore all the hassle or have it handled for them.

In the end I believe it really kills our medical system because like other socialism, it squashes or stomps on motivation and innovation.

Angela
Angela

Yes, I agree with you. Previous doctor I met with in the VA mentioned that he came to the VA to get a life. Confirmed right out of the horses mouth. Yes, due to Obama Care crap, regulations etc. The private health care professionals are having a difficult time dealing with the Obama administration crap. So they are heading to the VA.

Disgruntled Veteran
Disgruntled Veteran

Aloha All,

Glad to be back. I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

I now have a marathon reading session of articles (and YOUR commentary) from Ben to read during my absence.

Before I begin that educational and joyful task, let me just say this: I read the article in the Washington Post where Mr. Newt Gingrich supposedly used “spiteful language” when asking whether government employees who kill veterans should be allowed to remain in their jobs.

As a Marine and Sailor who served in Vietnam and the Gulf – – – I thought Mr. Gingrich had an outSTANDing grasp of the tactical situation concerning veterans, the VSO’s, AFGE, and VA. I thought he stated his concerns very straight-forwardly.

I must have zigged when I should have zagged. How is the truth “spiteful” ????

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

@Disgruntled Veteran – Did you have a nice Christmas? Watch yourself burning that midnight oil. Lucky you stay in da sub-tropics. Clean air, trade winds, and Aloha spirit. Was the price of fresh belly ahi high? I miss it bruddah [sp]. I’ve been battling with migraines. VA no help, dose jerks. It’s like talking to the wall to get proper help. Catch up with ya later.

Disgruntled Veteran
Disgruntled Veteran

Sushi Grade Ahi is between $27 – $35 per pound. Had to skip that this year. Poke Grade is about $17 per pound. Sorry about your migraines, no stranger to those. Had them for years.

Kalikimaka turned out better than I thought it would. Had a nice, quiet day. Just me, my girlies (Dogs) and a book. Nice to have a few days without the TV, Internet, and “comforts” of modern life intruding.

Had I gotten my retirement and benefits when I should have, I would have headed back to either Cebu or Mindanao about 20 years ago – – – and been living out in the province.

But, if you got to be stuck somewhere – – – there are many worse places than Teenage Mutant Ninja Hono Town!!!

GH
GH

You get 4 years for Trump to improve The VA. If not, may you incur the wrath of hell for killing the one route around VA Healthcare.

Dina Padilla
Dina Padilla

Get the educated commies and nazi’s out of our universities that create false propaganda, policy and news that affect the American people into thinking their needs are not important as illegals and that when the American people who fight for their benefits, like our vets, who are treated like criminals instead of the real criminals who don’t mind spending our tax dollars on those that are illegal and who get treated like kings and queens with their false sense of entitlement created by the commies and nazi’s who have flourished, thanks to some of the same in govt (legislators & federal contractors) since after WW11 & the many Trade Deals.