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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed sexual harassment at the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) medical centers, focusing on: (1) closed complaints of sexual harassment at VA; (2) the number of formal sexual harassment complaints in process; (3) the prevalence of sexual harassment at VA medical centers; and (4) VA medical centers' handling of sexual harassment complaints.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Veterans Affairs The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should assess the adequacy of the actions taken by VA medical centers to address GAO suggestions for improvement and implement corrective action to address any shortcomings.
Closed - Implemented
It is too soon for the agency to have responded yet. VA sent questionnaires to medical centers for self-assessment as to how they met GAO recommendations. Those responses were analyzed by VA EEO Office pursuant to VA Circular 00-93-10. Actions needed or undertaken to meet GAO recommendations have been identified. On August 1, 1994, VA Circular 00-94-2 was issued. It: (1) sets timeliness standards for processing EEO complaints and incorporates them into performance standards for officers who serve as EEO officers; (2) sets standards for appointing and training collateral duty EEO officers; (3) requires EEO program managers involved in complaint processing to be moved out of local human resource offices; and (4) classified procedures related to the use of administrative review boards, offering more knowledge and protection to the VA employee.
Department of Veterans Affairs The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should approve implementation of the agencywide survey of sexual harassment issues currently under consideration.
Closed - Implemented
VA has made contact with MSPB and contractors to determine what questions would be most appropriate for the survey. The Secretary wants a 100 percent survey, which will cost about $1 million. As of August 1, 1994, VA had not resolved where the money to pay for this survey would come from. Neither the Veterans Benefit Administration nor the Veterans Health Administration wants to fund the survey and the issue has not yet been pushed to the Secretary for resolution. The survey itself would probably present about a dozen questions, which will be finanlly agreed to by questionnaire experts. The questionnaire has not been finally approved. Results will not be forthcoming until 1996.

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