VA Managers Get Big Bonuses Despite Deadly Legionella Outbreak

Two Veteran Affairs senior health care managers for Southwest Pennsylvania received large bonuses despite a deadly outbreak of legionella that spread through Pittsburgh’s VA hospitals over the past two years.

Michael Moreland, Director of Veterans Integrated Service Network 4, received at least two bonuses totaling more than $70,000.  Terry Wolf, Director of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, received a $12,924 bonus.

The VA Office of the Inspector General attributed the outbreak to lax management oversight, some of which of which was observed before and during the period for which the bonuses were awarded, noted Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

"The VA has not yet announced its FY 2012 performance awards. Therefore Congress does not know if Mr. Moreland or Ms. Wolf were slated to receive performance bonuses for that year. However the department has deferred FY 2012 performance awards for some VA Senior Executives, including some in the Veterans Health Administration’s Southeast and Pennsylvania medical networks, pending further review," Toomey wrote to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

"Based on your nomination, Mr. Moreland received the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award. The award ceremony took place three days after the VA OIG issued its report on Apr. 23 that found systemic failures at the Pittsburgh VA. The White House approved the award in Nov. 2012, i.e. the same month as VA’s legionella notification."

Shinseki has been asked to provide Congress with the rationale for FY 2011 performance bonuses for Moreland and Wolf.

"When did the VA become aware of the Legionella outbreak and what bearing did this knowledge have on their performance bonuses for FY 2011?" Toomey asked Shinseki. "To what extent was your continued support of Mr. Moreland’s Presidential Distinguished Rank Award informed by your knowledge of the legionella outbreak?"

The Pittsburgh outbreak sickened 22 veterans and killed at least five of them.