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  • - [Instructor] As we've discussed in other videos,

  • the federal bureaucracy is a huge part of the US government,

  • sometimes even called the fourth branch.

  • It has more than two million employees

  • who work in various agencies

  • dedicated to implementing the law.

  • So the bureaucracy has a lot of discretion

  • to decide how best to achieve a policy goal.

  • But the sheer size of the bureaucracy,

  • along with its independence,

  • can make it difficult to monitor.

  • What happens when a bureaucratic agency

  • fails to carry out its mission,

  • or deviates from the letter or the intent of a law?

  • What can the other branches do to keep it accountable?

  • Let's use a real example to make things a bit more concrete.

  • In 2014, a whistleblower came forward, reporting that

  • a hospital in the Department of Veterans Affairs

  • was deceiving federal regulators

  • about how long veterans were waiting to receive healthcare.

  • Because officials at the VA got pay bonuses

  • based on ensuring that patients

  • had short wait times for medical care,

  • they were falsifying electronic records

  • to keep wait times within those acceptable guidelines.

  • In reality though, the average wait time for medical care

  • was greater than 100 days, and dozens of veterans died

  • while waiting for delayed appointments.

  • Now, this is a pretty complex story,

  • so I'm just giving you the broad strokes here.

  • But for our purposes, what you need to know is

  • this was a case of very serious mismanagement

  • in a bureaucratic agency.

  • So now, let's think about

  • what the other branches of government could do,

  • using their formal and informal powers,

  • in response to this situation.

  • I encourage you to pause the video here,

  • and see if you can list at least one action

  • that the executive branch, Congress,

  • or the judicial branch could take.

  • Ready, go.

  • Okay, so let's go through some of the actions

  • that the other branches did take

  • in response to the VA scandal,

  • and you can check to see if you came up with any of them.

  • So what steps did the executive take?

  • Remember that the bureaucracy itself

  • is under the executive branch.

  • So first, we saw internal investigations

  • from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki.

  • The VA used its rulemaking authority

  • to abandon the unrealistic wait time goal

  • in order to remove that perverse incentive.

  • It was within the power of Barack Obama,

  • who was president at the time,

  • to fire the cabinet secretary,

  • but instead, Shinseki resigned.

  • Then the president used his nomination power

  • to replace him with a new VA secretary, Bob McDonald.

  • Obama also introduced a number of executive actions

  • to address the problem,

  • including establishing an independent

  • accountability review board,

  • a board of physicians to advise the secretary,

  • a plan to upgrade the electronic health record system,

  • and protections for whistleblowers.

  • What steps did Congress take?

  • First, Congress used its oversight power to call hearings,

  • investigating what was going on at the VA.

  • They subpoenaed Secretary Shinseki to testify.

  • They also passed reform measures,

  • using their lawmaking powers and the power of the purse

  • to fix the larger problems at the VA,

  • funding a $16 billion plan to hire more doctors and nurses,

  • upgrade facilities, and allow veterans

  • to see private doctors if necessary.

  • And as part of this reform,

  • Congress included legislation that made it easier

  • to hold VA officials accountable for misconduct.

  • Congress also used its power

  • to approve presidential nominations

  • by confirming the new VA secretary.

  • The judicial branch, for its part,

  • reviewed the constitutionality of the new rules

  • holding VA employees accountable.

  • The federal court system heard a case

  • about whether it was constitutional

  • to fire civil servants who weren't appointed,

  • without giving them a chance to appeal.

  • The courts ruled that that was unconstitutional,

  • so in 2017, Congress passed a new bill,

  • adding a grievance process for civil servants,

  • which President Trump then signed into law.

  • So it's been a few years since the VA scandal,

  • so how are things doing?

  • Did the reform measures work?

  • In 2015, The New York Times reported

  • that only three people had been fired

  • as a response to the scandal,

  • despite Bob McDonald's public statements

  • that 60 employees had been fired.

  • In 2019, Debra Draper, the healthcare director

  • at the Government Accountability Office,

  • told the House Veterans Affairs Committee

  • that although the VA had made progress

  • in wait times and scheduling,

  • there was still room for improvement.

  • She said that the VA's new system

  • was still not accurately recording patient wait times,

  • and that veterans might still wait

  • up to 70 days for an appointment,

  • even though the VA was reporting a much shorter delay.

  • On the positive side, the VA completed

  • one million more appointments for veterans

  • in 2018 than in 2017, showing that

  • access to care for veterans had definitely improved.

  • So what do you think?

  • Were the other branches of government

  • able to hold the VA accountable?

  • If you had to solve this problem,

  • either as a member of Congress, a judge, or the president,

  • what other steps could you take?

- [Instructor] As we've discussed in other videos,

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政策と政府の枝分かれ|AP アメリカ政府と政治|カーン・アカデミー (Policy and the branches of government | AP US Government and Politics | Khan Academy)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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