VA Sec. McDonald Is Living in a Fantasy Land

For Immediate Release Contact: Curtis Kalin 202-467-5318
May 23, 2016  

(Washington, D.C.) – Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has heard a lot of ridiculous comments in its 32 years of existence.  A new candidate for one of the most absurd remarks ever uttered by a public official came this morning from Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, who dismissed the importance of wait times for veterans care, and compared the life and death struggle that thousands of veterans have endured at the VA to the minor inconveniences that might be experienced by families at Disney amusement parks.

During a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters this morning, Sec. McDonald said, “When you got to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line?  Or what's important?  What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience? … And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.”

Sec. McDonald is clearly playing the role of Dumbo in his very own Fantasy Land.  Disney does, in fact, monitor how long its customers wait in line because they have the astonishingly simple belief that serving their customers quickly and efficiently is the best measure of overall performance.  Their Fast Pass system is credited with keeping park lines to under one hour, and it allows visitors to pick the time that they can get into an attraction.  Disney cares because they know that if customers are unhappy, then can go over to Universal Studios, which of course has its own version of Fast Pass, called Express Pass.

Conveniently, measuring only outcomes would have done nothing to prevent the insidious VA practice of zeroing out veteran wait times, which was revealed to have occurred in 19 states and Puerto Rico.  In seven states, VA supervisors instructed schedulers to fabricate patient wait times at medical facilities.  In one case, a VA employee was scolded for not manipulating wait times.  For the families of the veterans who passed away while waiting for an appointment in a VA hospital, the secretary’s remarks are insulting and disgraceful.

CAGW President Tom Schatz blasted the jaw-dropping statement:  “Secretary McDonald seems Frozen in the past, incapable of understanding that if veterans do not get an appointment in a timely manner, it could cost them their lives, or at the very least, adversely affect the outcome of their treatment.  The secretary was heralded as a successful private sector CEO who could turn the department around, but he’s a lot more like Scrooge McDuck.  Maybe the fish from Finding Nemo need to be called on to help the VA find a new leader.” 

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. 

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