In total, the top 44 salaries on the list went to individuals working within the VA.
B. Christopher Agee May 30, 2014
Prior to tendering his resignation amid a growing scandal, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki announced that he would fire top officials in Phoenix. A facility in the Arizona capital was the epicenter of allegations that veterans were forced to wait for treatment much longer than records indicated, resulting in dozens of deaths.
By stripping these delays from its official reports, critics say the department was able to present a favorable – albeit fabricated – account of patient treatment. In the process, top officials in the city were reportedly compensated handsomely.
For the year 2013, government transparency database Open the Books reported that top doctors within the Arizona branch of the Department of Veterans Affairs were, on average, paid far more than other federal employees in the state.
Topping the list was Dr. George Swartz, who reportedly earned $357,528 last year. He was joined by 12 others whose salaries topped $300,000.
The highest-paid federal employee in Arizona not affiliated with the VA in 2013 was David M. Harmatz of the Department of Health and Human Services, who earned nearly $93,000 less than Swartz. In total, the top 44 salaries on the list went to individuals working within the VA.
Following Harmatz, the list of top earners includes another 10 straight VA employees.
Of course, the fact that employees of the department are among the highest paid government workers is not limited to Arizona. In fact, a search of any state is likely to show similar results. Given the controversy surrounding the VA currently, though, it is telling that an alleged cover-up of delays in Phoenix coincided with these large salaries.
Shinseki’s resignation was one of the demands made by certain veterans groups, including the American Legion; however, these critics see it as just one step toward effecting real change within the VA. Thanks to the Internet and organizations like Open the Books, it is now easy to see what the federal government thinks those within the department deserve to make.
While ObamaCare and other bureaucratic regulations make it more difficult for doctors in private practice to earn a comfortable living, those operating within the public sector are apparently quite capable of becoming among the richest government employees.
Upon discovering this information, one might imagine the public backlash will be even more severe if swift and decisive action is not taken against those responsible.
Photo Credit: Facebook/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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