VA noncommittal about review of $63K bonus for retiring regional director Moreland
By Mike Wereschagin and Adam Smeltz
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Months after the Department of Veterans Affairs promised to review a five-figure bonus given to the top VA official in Pittsburgh, department spokespeople won't say whether they've begun their inquiry — or whether they intend to.
Regional director Michael Moreland's $63,000 bonus, awarded days before the VA Pittsburgh announced a deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak in November 2012, prompted public outcry and helped lead to a congressional hearing.
Asked on Monday about the status of the VA's investigation of that bonus, a spokesman would say only that Moreland is retiring from a 34-year VA career on Nov. 1.
“This will be our only statement concerning this matter,” regional spokesman David Cowgill said.
That drew a rebuke from Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, who called it “an insult to the families of those who died” in the outbreak.
“VA does not get to decide when this conversation is over. Congress and the American people do,” Miller said. “We simply will not stand by while VA attempts to quietly shuffle Moreland out the back door with his $63,000 bonus in hand.
“It's time for VA to come clean about its review of Moreland's bonus and take any and all steps necessary to recoup the funds.”
As cash troubles plague much of the government, large awards such as Moreland's — he received nearly $16,000 the year before his big bonus — are difficult for veterans to understand, said Ron Conley, director of veterans services for Allegheny County.
“The VA's attitude is that the bonus was an overall job performance (award) for Mr. Moreland, and not just (for) this one incident. I thought it was disgusting,” Conley said. “I just have a hard time with bonuses anyhow, because when people are hired, they're hired to do the best possible job. Bonuses come about because you do extraordinary things.”
The outbreak lasted from February 2011 to November 2012 and sickened at least 21 veterans, five of whom died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Moreland's base salary in 2011 was $179,700 a year. His resignation makes him the second VA official in a month to announce plans to step down. Robert Petzel, Veterans Health Administration undersecretary, announced his retirement in late September. Both men faced intense questioning from Congress during a hearing in Pittsburgh on Sept. 9.
VA officials in Washington won't say who will take over for Moreland when he leaves or how they will select a permanent successor.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Patients nationwide die waiting as 1 in 5 kidneys rejected by doctors
- Officials identify Chartiers shooting victim as Wilkinsburg man
- Pope Francis inspires incredible optimism
- Film tax credits bill would bump up state budget
- Bethel Park man to receive degree from Pitt he earned 64 years ago
- California company Varian to pay Pitt $35M to settle patent infringement lawsuit
- Bullied South Fayette student’s case prompts wiretap overhaul legislation
- Newsmaker: Rosalind Ross
- South Fayette mother wants case against bullied son to be dropped
- South Fayette parents express dissatisfaction with handling of bullying
- Castle Shannon man accused of crashing way down Pittsburgh street