Stronger assignment power for IG to VA approved; FECA Processing Bill Advances

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President Biden signed into law S-2687, to give the VA Inspector General the power to issue subpoenas to compel testimony from people who have since left government but who may have information relevant to a investigation.

However, such subpoenas could not be issued for criminal prosecution, and the office should notify the Department of Justice in advance and refrain from issuing the subpoena if that department determines that it would interfere. with one of its own investigations.

The IG community has pushed Congress for years to grant similar powers across government, arguing that in some cases federal employees quit to avoid having to provide evidence that could harm their careers.

Last year, the House passed HR-2662, containing that authority among a number of other provisions affecting GIs, but the Senate failed to act on it. The bill affecting only the office of the VA was part of a set of VA-related bills that have been passed by Congress in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, the House passed HR-6087, to include nurse practitioners and physician assistants as eligible providers under the FECA program. Under the bill, they could prescribe or recommend treatment for injured workers; certify the nature of an injury and the likely extent of disability; provide prescribed treatment to injured federal workers; and participate, with a physician designated by the Ministry of Labour, in a mandatory workplace accident review of an injured worker.

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