Reinforcement of Values to Better Serve Veterans and Employees

  • Ms. Elizabeth E. Torres

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been plagued by problems with Veterans’ access to benefits and care for decades. Criticism from the media, Congress, and other stakeholders about the growing bureaucracy, constrained resources, and an overburdened system led to ethical failures, and the eventual resignation of Secretary Shinseki amid a crisis that erupted in the Spring of 2014. This paper seeks to understand the underlying causes of the failures and demonstrate how one senior leader’s approach to culture change, specifically, Secretary Robert McDonald, compares to Schein’s theory of organizational culture and its effect on values. It will look at the environmental conditions that played into the crisis, analyze and understand the problem, and evaluate the approach taken by Secretary McDonald in addressing the problem.