Saturday, May 31, 2014

Were bonuses tied to VA wait times? Here's what we know -

English: Official image of Secretary of Vetera...
English: Official image of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Were bonuses tied to VA wait times? Here's what we know -

(CNN) -- It's one of the more disturbing revelations to arise from an investigation into fatal delays in care at Veterans Affairs medical centers: Employee bonuses appear to be one factor behind the manipulation of patient wait times in at least one hospital.
Two reports released this week -- one by the VA's inspector general and another by the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs -- indicate in some cases wait times were manipulated to meet employee performance goals needed for bonuses.
The news has raised questions about just how widespread the practice was and who received the financial incentives.
Answers from the VA have been harder to come by.
Here's a look at what we know:

Is this the next VA Secretary?
Sanders responds to Shinseki resignation
What did the reports reveal?
At the Phoenix VA patient wait times were directly tied to VA employees' bonuses and raises. By manipulating doctor's appointments for the veterans, the wait time to see a doctor appeared to be shorter, a factor considered in VA employee bonuses and raises, according to a VA inspector general report said.
The VA secretary's audit of a number of medical centers that concluded "some front-line, middle, and senior managers felt compelled to manipulate" the scheduling process to meet performance goals established by the agency.
Who benefited?
By all indications, from the reports and congressional testimony, the practice involved high-level managers in at least the Phoenix VA medical network.
Neither report identified managers by name or position.
How much money?
There is no easy answer to this. Performance incentives are typically tied to a number of factors, and the VA has not detailed how much of a role patient wait times may have played.
Who knew about it?
There is no hard and fast answer.
The first public revelation that salary increases and bonuses may have been a factor came with the release of the agency's inspector general report.
The House Committee on Veterans Affairs also asked the question during a combative hearing this week, where Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Michigan, inquired whether there was a financial motivation to manipulate appointment schedules at the Phoenix VA.
"That is a discussion the (VA inspector general) is having," Dr. Thomas Lynch, the VA's assistant deputy undersecretary for clinical operations, said.
How widespread is the problem?
It appears the VA, itself, is still trying to answer that question, citing the ongoing inspector general's investigation. A final report is due in August.
The issue of patient wait times is not an overall performance factor ordered by the VA, Lynch recently told the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
The factors tied to bonuses and raises are decided by each VA network, Lynch said.
But the VA also appeared to indicate in its audit that its mandate to improve wait times may have played a role.
As a result of the audit, the VA suspended financial incentives -- bonuses and salary increases -- for all Veterans Health Administration executives for the 2014 fiscal year.

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To mark the centenary of the First World War Britain’s busiest tourist attraction the Tower of London will be turned into a £15million sea of red.

It is to be surrounded by nearly 900,000 ceramic poppies from 5th August 2014 to 11th November - Armistice Day. It is to signify the sacrifice of troops from Britain and its Commonwealth countries between 1914-1921.
Once the display is finished the plan is to sell the poppies online at £25 each to raise funds for military charities for veterans and the wounded.
The idea was unveiled by the former Chief of the General Staff the Lord Dannatt, who is now the Constable of the Tower.  He wanted the display to involve 888,246 poppies, one for every fatality of the British and Commonwealth during the Great War.  The poppies will be planted in the 16 acres of the Towers moat and many will be installed in displays rising over the entrance or cascading from the Towers bastion.
Lord Dannatt said: "I hope this will be the iconic image of this summer. The poppies will completely fill the moat of the Tower of London all the way round.
"It will represent every British and colonial fatality between 1914 and 1921 as recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
"Imagine the green around the Tower as completely red."
The Tower of London is one of Britain’s most busy and popular attractions for tourist drawing 2.85 million visitors an year.  The poppies are being made by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and his team based near Derby County’s football stadium.
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Research guide B7: The Royal Navy: Ship records - UK

Cover of 2006 edition.
Cover of 2006 edition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The official place of deposit for records of the Royal Navy is The National Archives at Kew. However, the Archive and Library has many complementary resources which will assist in researching the history, service and crew of Royal Naval ships. 
The holdings of the Archive and Library are extremely rich in items on individual ships and actions and it is strongly recommended to search our online catalogues for references to vessels of interest to your research. However, the following are amongst the most useful and comprehensive reference works to act as a starting point, and are all available on open access in the Reading Room:
  • Colledge, J.J., Ships of the Royal Navy: an historical index (2 vols)
  • Clowes, William Laird, The Royal Navy : a history from the earliest times to the death of Queen Victoria (7 vols.)
  • Lenton, H.T., British and empire warships of the Second World War
  • Lyon, David, The sailing Navy list: all the ships of the Royal Navy built, purchased and captured: 1688-1860
  • Lyon, David, The sail and steam navy list:; all the ships of the Royal Navy 1815 – 1889
  • Winfield, Rif, British warships in the age of sail, 1603-1714 : design, construction, careers and fates
  • Winfield, Rif, British Warships in the age of sail, 1714-1792 : design, construction, careers and fates
  • Winfield, Rif, British warships in the age of sail, 1793-1817 : design, construction, careers and fates

Ship lists and movements

Steel's Navy List 1782–1816

Steel’s Navy List provides basic information on Royal Naval vessels, their commanders and their station. It also covers Royal Navy shore establishments, and later issues list French, Spanish and American ships taken during the Napoleonic Wars, and British ships lost, captured or destroyed. Published monthly for much of its history, the Caird Library has almost complete holdings.

Navy List 1814-present

The Admiralty began to publish the official Navy List was following the model ofSteel’s Navy List, which soon ceased publication. While the content varies across its publishing history, the Navy List shows all Royal Navy ships and establishments, coastguard vessels, hired vessels and packet ships. It indicates their commander and later issues show all officers, as well as providing information on pay and regulations.

Warship histories

A microfiche compiled by museum staff, alphabetically listing all British warships, c.1650–1950. Entries include launch dates, size, number of men and guns, and brief outlines of ship careers, with commanders.

Admiralty movement books

Photographic copies of official manuscript records, these cover movements of Royal Navy ships (also vessels of the Royal Australian, Canadian and Indian Navies) during World War II. They include vessels on government service down to trawlers but not landing craft, hired vessels or troopships. The books are in two sequences arranged alphabetically by name of ship: one for surviving vessels, another for those sunk. While details vary, they include sailings, convoy numbers, repairs, and incidents such as crews rescued from torpedoed vessels.

20th-century warship histories

Photocopies of an unpublished typescript compiled by the Naval Historical Branch, of the Ministry of Defence, giving service summaries for 20th century Royal Naval vessels. A very useful resource, it should be born in mind that the length of entries varies considerably and the coverage is not comprehensive, but is biased towards more significant vessels, and particularly those serving in World War 2.

Royal Navy Lieutenants' logbooks

Lieutenants' logbooks, 1673–1809, totalling 5205 volumes. Although this is a very full series of records it is not always certain a log exists for a particular ship's commission. A detailed index of logs by ship is available in the Reading Room or from Archive staff.
Lieutenants' logs record weather, navigation and ship routines, as well as incidents occurring during a ship's commission. The logs may record loss or damage to stores, and disciplinary action. Lieutenant’s logs were bound into volumes at the Navy Office. All Captains' and Masters' logs are held by The National Archives at Kew.

Next steps

Other guides in the series which may be useful for researching the Royal Navy:
For general research help see:
Although care has been taken in preparing the information contained in this document, anyone using it shall be deemed to indemnify the National Maritime Museum from any and all injury or damage arising from such use.
Last updated June 2011

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Bloomberg News Shinseki Quitting Puts Focus on Congress in VA Reform

English: Official image of Secretary of Vetera...
English: Official image of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation amid widespread delays in providing health-care for military veterans shifts the focus to Congress and the debate over whether more spending is needed.
Republicans yesterday signaled that they would try to keep pressure on President Barack Obama, indicating that his administration may need to work within the department’s current budget to pay for any changes.
“I am not sure money is the problem,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, said in an interview yesterday in Washington, adding that Congress has “flooded the VA with money” in recent years.
Shinseki resigned after becoming a political liability for Obama. Lawmakers from both parties called for his ouster and said the president bore responsibility for mismanagement of an agency that spends $160 billion annually, including providing medical care to more than 8.3 million veterans.
After accepting Shinseki’s resignation yesterday, Obama said spending on veterans has been a priority “but it still may not be enough.” He said the Veterans Health Administration needed a new information system, and may need more doctors and nurses.
“That’s going to cost some money,” Obama said.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said Shinseki’s resignation “does not absolve the president of his responsibility to step in and make things right.”
“A personnel change cannot be used as an excuse to paper over a systemic problem,” Boehner, a Republican, told reporters in Washington.

Legislative Responses

Lawmakers are considering legislative responses. House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican, said he’s drafting legislation that would require care be offered outside the VA system to veterans who waited at least 30 days for a medical appointment.
In the Senate, Democrats are considering action next week on a measure that would make it easier to dismiss VA officials for misconduct, said a Democratic leadership aide who asked for anonymity to discuss the plans. A similar proposal passed the House, which has also voted to freeze bonuses for senior VA officials through the 2018 fiscal year.
The president accepted Shinseki’s resignation after the retired Army general delivered an interim review that found systemic mismanagement, treatment delays and falsified records throughout the VHA, the U.S.’s largest health-care network. The internal audit showed scheduling staff were instructed to manipulate appointments at 64 percent of VA facilities.

A Distraction

Shinseki concluded “that he could not carry out the next stages of reform without being a distraction himself,” Obama said at the White House. “And my assessment was that, unfortunately, he was right.”
Obama said VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson will take over on an interim basis. White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors will remain on temporary assignment to the VA to assist with the transition and complete his own review, Obama said.
U.S. lawmakers and the leader of a prominent veterans’ group welcomed Shinseki’s decision to quit.
“The denial of care to our veterans is a national disgrace, and it’s fitting that the person who oversees the Department of Veterans Affairs has accepted responsibility for this growing scandal and resigned,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in a statement.

Seeking Replacement

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Obama should replace Shinseki with “someone who would get confirmed very quickly” and suggested that person come with experience in business.
“Maybe it needs somebody to just come in as part of a management team that says, ’This is how we would do it in the private sector, this is how we manage scheduling and lines and getting people where they need to be for their appointment,’” the California Democrat said in an interview to air this weekend on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt.”
William Thien, national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said his group supported Shinseki’s resignation.
“The outside calls for his resignation were overshadowing the crisis in health-care issues veterans face,” Thien said in a statement.
While lauding Shinseki’s service in the military and at the VA, Obama said the department wouldn’t be able to fix the system while the secretary was under fire from lawmakers and veterans groups.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Polite Request for a Bicycle - WWII

A Polite Request for a Bicycle

by  on May 27, 2014

Today’s post is written by Megan Dwyre, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park
“Hans Smit Duyzenkunst lent his bicycle for the evaders transport, but never got it back. He request you politely for an other bicycle.”
Hans Smit Duyzenkunst Claim
Hans Smit Duyzenkunst Claim
While working on a reference request, I came across this claim from the file for Hans Smit Duyzenkunst in the series Case Files of Dutch Citizens Proposed for Awards for Assisting American Airmen, 1945-1947 (National Archives Identifier 5709392), informally known as the “Dutch Helper Files.”[1]
The case files, compiled by the Award Branch of the U.S. Army’s Military Intelligence Service, Escape and Evasion Section (MIS-X), contain information on civilians in formerly occupied areas of Western Europe who aided Allied servicemen in escaping and evading the enemy during World War II. Some civilian helpers were part of organized escape lines, while others were simply friendly citizens who crossed paths with Allied servicemen in need.
I returned to the case file and discovered that Hans was part of an organized escape line, described as “the group Hoogland.” According to his file, in addition to giving his bicycle, Hans provided temporary shelter and food to approximately eight evaders and personally transported them to subsequent sheltering addresses.
The aid he provided could have brought dire consequences to Hans. According to MIS-X, retribution for underground activities was particularly vengeful in Holland, where “pilot-helping was considered from the start of the occupation as serious an offense as espionage,” and likewise punishable by death.[2] A 1943 bulletin on escape and evasion stressed this fact – “Anyone who helps, risks death,” instructing would-be evaders to protect any helpers “with the greatest care.”[3]Despite such risks, the only thing Hans requested in his claim was a replacement bicycle. The case file notes that he received a Grade 5 award, but I wondered – did he ever get the bicycle?
According to the case file, Hans’ award was decided at Conference No. 10 on October 19, 1945. Representatives from the British and American offices attended weekly joint conferences to discuss and confirm award grades. Agreement was necessary to ensure that helpers would “not be given the impression that one country prized their work more highly than the other.”[4]  I searched the series Minutes of Conferences Concerned with Granting Awards to Dutch Citizens for Assisting Allied Airmen, 1945-1947 (NAID 5709386) and located the minutes of Conference No. 10, which confirmed that Hans received a Grade 5 award. A “+” symbol appears next to his name, with the explanation that those helpers “will receive one bicycle from the American Section at helpers’ own request.”[5] It seems that Hans’ polite request was fulfilled.
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