Health Care:

VA's Implementation of the Nurse Pay Act of 1990

T-HRD-92-35: Published: Jun 3, 1992. Publicly Released: Jun 3, 1992.

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GAO discussed the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) implementation of a locality pay system for nurses, focusing on: (1) the appropriateness of survey methods that various VA medical centers used; and (2) VA efforts to inform nurses about the system. GAO noted that: (1) VA did not test its survey questionnaire before sending it out to the medical centers; (2) although 8 of the 18 data collectors at the centers reviewed had no prior experience in conducting salary surveys, VA provided them with little training; (3) VA collected salary data through telephone calls without verifying the information obtained; (4) VA did not follow a rigorous approach to ensure that job matches were accurate; (5) nurses at the four medical centers visited had substantive involvement in collecting salary data for their own and their supervisors' pay grades, representing a possible conflict of interest; (6) despite widely varying salary increases, VA did not review three-fourths of the medical center surveys; and (7) the medical centers reviewed did not keep nurses informed about concentrated efforts during periods shortly before or after the locality pay system was implemented.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was included in GAO report HRD-93-54, dated May 21, 1993. VA is developing its comments on the report.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should report its administration of the locality pay system to the Office of Management and Budget as a material internal control weakness under the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was included in GAO report HRD-93-54, dated May 21, 1993. VA is in the process of developing its comments on the report.

    Recommendation: VA should promptly develop a plan for correcting the deficiencies and establish a timetable for completing the corrective actions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VA provided additional formal training on conducting locality pay surveys to personnelists and nurses in March 1993 and indicated that these personnel will be able to provide training at each medical center as the need arises. Additionally, locality pay will be made a part of new employee orientation programs.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should also require each VA medical center to provide continuous training concerning the locality pay systems to its nursing staff.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

 

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