Transcript for President Obama Nominates Robert McDonald for VA Head
Hello front I'm Devin Dwyer a New -- -- surprise pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs won the White House hopes can fix those serious systemic problems. -- left thousands of vets waiting for care President Obama there. Speaking now with the vice president on his nominee Bob MacDonald former CEO Procter & Gamble. Let's listen. -- for us. I know how deeply -- care about our veterans. Many of your veterans yourselves. Veteran serving veterans. You help them transition to civilian life. -- college by their first home. Start new business. You have some of the best doctors and nurses in the country and provide some of the best specialized doctor. Our national cemeteries you -- our veterans to rest would dignity and compassion. I know that millions of veterans are profoundly grateful. For the good work that you do and I am grateful as well. But. We're here today because of problems that have outraged -- all. That includes the inexcusable conduct we've seen it too many VA health care for -- -- So I'm here for two reasons. To update you -- the American people on how we're fixing these problems. And to announce my choice for the next secretary of veterans affairs to help move us forward. The first -- -- one should know is that. Those responsible for manipulating or falsifying records at the -- and those who tolerated it for being held accountable. Some officials have already been relieved of their duties. Investigations are continuing. And as I've said where we find misconduct it will be punished. -- made it clear that I expect the -- full cooperation with all the ongoing investigations into -- -- Second. We've reached out to 135000. Veterans so far to get them off those wait lists and into clinics. We've added more staff. Sent mobile medical units and were making it easier for veterans to use hospitals and clinics outside -- We're keep bad -- until every one of our veterans is off a wait list and they receive the care that they -- Third of them were moving ahead with the urgent reforms at the Veterans Health Administration. That fourteen days scheduling goes been removed from employee evaluations so there is absolutely no incentive to engage in inappropriate behavior. Providing. The highest all the care when our veterans needed. That's -- incentive. There'll be new measures the patient satisfaction. From the veteran's perspective. And today is outdated VA scheduling system is going to be overhauled with the latest technology. More broadly the review that. Rob neighbors conducted of the VHA found and I'm quoting significant and chronic systemic failures. Including two little responsiveness. Transparency and accountability. And that is totally unacceptable. It recommends that the VH AB restructured and reformed. With stronger management leadership. And oversight as well as more doctors and staff. And I totally agree and we're gonna make that happen. I've asked for up to remain at the VA for now to help move these reforms forward. Hiring of new could be VW. -- leaders has been frozen. VHA leaders has been frozen. To make sure the new team -- putting in place is the right now. Based on the recommendations of our panel of experts are will be nominating the next leader the future. Or get the very best leader on the job and get going on these reforms and we're gonna work with congress to make sure that the visionary. Has more the doctors and resources it needs to deliver the care that our veterans deserve. Four. Were instituting a new culture of accountability. The very idea that senior VHA. Executives would received bonuses this year. Rightly appalled. Many Americans and those bonuses -- have been canceled. A review is now under way to make sure the when employees speak up about a problem action is taken not to intimidate or retaliate against the employee but actually to fix the problem. There was going to be held accountable for doing better and congress can help by giving. The secretary more authority to remove senior leaders. Finally we were rebuilding our leadership team here at the -- I want -- Sloan and others here who have stepped up to serve in new roles during this critical time. And I have to say excellent you have been an outstanding driving force behind the reforms that are now under way. Will be relying on your steady hand during this period of transition and through your continued services deputy secretary. And I -- all of you will have an outstanding partner and secretary in my choice to lead the VA going forward. One of our nation's most accomplished business leaders and managers. Robert -- Now I've got no -- but dipped over the years he's come the White House to share as perspectives as we've worked through complicated issues. He's no nonsense. He's pragmatic. He does not seek the limelight. He repeats Japanese saying. He worked. In lived in Japan for six years -- Procter & Gamble. The saying goes if you climbs Mount Fuji is a wise man Hugh climbs -- twice is a -- Now Bob actually climbed to Mount Fuji. Wants. Bob is a wise man. And if you need any more evidence that -- -- wise you do it to -- DN and his family. Who work here today because. They are a wonderful family and obviously they've. Served along with him. -- in the Paris. For Bob and his family the mission of caring for our veterans is deeply personal. His father served in the army air corps after World War II. Dee Anne's father was a POW. Her uncle was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and still receives treatment from the VA. So. This is not. An abstract mission for them. Bob is a veteran himself he graduated from West Point where he and Sloan were classmates so this is a bit of a reunion. Bob served as an army ranger in the 82 airborne division. Back Coleman Cincinnati he India and have teamed up with the US -- to honor our veterans. But. What. Especially makes Bob the right choice to leave BA right now is his three decades experience. In building and managing one of the world's most recognized companies proctor and gamble. The -- not a business but it is one of our largest departments. Some 340000. Employees working in more than 17100 facilities serving nearly nine million veterans. The workload of the VHA alone is enormous. Some 85 million appointments a year and some point five million consultations. As CEO of Procter & Gamble. Bob oversaw more than -- 120000. Employees -- operations around the world selling products in more than -- 180 countries. In more than two million stores reaching some five billion customers. In other words he knows the key to any successful enterprises staying focused on people you're trying -- He's renowned for its operational excellence. He started his career out in the field and worked his way up. Serving at virtually every level Procter & Gamble. He understands the grand plans are not enough what matters is the operations that you put in place and getting the job done. Bob is an expert and making organizations better. In his career he's taken over struggling business units he knows -- -- roll the sleeves and gets to work. Putting an end to what doesn't work adopting best practices that do. Restructuring. Introducing innovations making operations more efficient and effective. In short. She's about delivering better -- He also knows the importance of building where he calls -- high performance team. Putting the right people in the right jobs rewarding them when they do well and holding them accountable when they do do not. And finally Bob known for his integrity. He still guided by that cadet prayer from Westport choose the harder right -- of these you're wrong. He served our country in uniform. He's now prepared to answer the call once more. So let me state the obvious this is not going to be an easy assignment. Bob knows that but like -- army airborne ranger Bob has a reputation for being ready. Jumping -- the tough situations taking charge and going all the way. So Bob on behalf of all of us. To you -- the end and your family thank you for readiness to serve again. My bottom line is this we got to change the way -- does business. Over the past five years. This agency has done some excellent work in dealing with a whole range of real difficult challenges and I don't want people to forget that. We had have had a few huge influx. Returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. We have had. I think. Had to manage what was a good decision. To make sure that. Folks who previously had difficulty accessing the services were finally admitted -- -- is because they had PT SB war. Folks with cases previously of Agent Orange. All of which meant more people coming into the system. We have had to get up and running and is now. We're doing quite effectively. Work in terms of the post 9/11 GI bill to make sure that. Our young people are able to get the training they need. After. They -- our military. So across the board there's been some terrific work. But. There's a lot more it has to be done. We've got to fix some things that are -- And its loans started that process but we're gonna have to keep on driving until we get it done. We've got to -- -- gain the trust of our veterans. Where they've PA that is more effective more efficient. And the truly puts veterans first. Bob's manager we need help get this done so. I urge the senate to confirmed him as soon as possible. I also urge the senate to finally confirm my nominee for CFO Helen Tierney. My nominee for assistant secretary for policy Linda Schwartz. My nominee to lead the board of veterans appeals Constance Tobias. They have all been waiting and waiting. And waiting for -- vote. And Constance case for more than a year. We need them on the job now and congress -- to act. And help us do right by our veterans. We've got do right by veterans like corporal Kyle harper of some of you may have seen. The story -- -- recently had the privilege of presenting Kyle with the medal of honor for his actions in Afghanistan. Where he used his body to shield his best friend from a grenade blast. -- spent two and a half years in the hospital. He endured nearly forty surgeries to rebuild his body and the space and is gone through excruciating -- And to see him standing in the White House strong and proud -- receiving. His medal of honor -- something I will never forget there was an inspiration. Today -- medically retired -- -- journey of recovery has involved the VA. On the one hand he's now in college and with the help of his VA educational benefits. And it's an example of good work that the BA's doctor. On the other hand from his experience would -- -- health care is. Often been frustrated. Is that it was okay that I sure this -- -- today so I just want. Use -- us an example here's an American hero. By any definition. Sometimes we use that word too loosely. This -- a hero. And deserves everything we can do. But like other veterans. How sometimes have trouble just make an appointment. Or had to wait months to see is doctor only to be referred to another -- way to another two months without a point. He often felt like a number he -- being passed between doctors who sometimes in no situation or why he needed certain medication. He's relied on the help of a patient advocate -- that so many steps along the way it's just been a lot harder than it should have been. As is advocates said. It shouldn't be this way. So -- it does many things well. Are delivering -- educational benefits. And we need all of you to keep doing that important work like reducing. The disability claims backlog and improving care for post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. Building on the good work retarded been done and reducing homelessness among our veterans. Helping veterans get their education of the post 9/11 GI bill. And helping find new civilian job so they can enjoy the American dream that they helped to defend. It's a good time to mention the great work that the -- is done -- -- Joseph Biden. And Michelle. Him. Partnering with a private sector. So that that transition from military to civilian life is a lot easier for veterans. But when it comes to delivering timely quality health care. We have to do better. We have to do better for Kyle. We have to do better for all or wounded warriors. We have to do better for all our veterans from all our wars. They're looking for us to fulfill Lincoln's -- To care for those who've. Borne the battle. And for their -- and survivors. I'm confident we can do -- And so long as -- president or keep doing everything in our power to uphold. What is a sacred obligation. -- that I wanted to invite Bob to -- a few words thank you so much Bob for taken on this assignment think this. And Mr. President. Thank you for your confidence in me that this nomination demonstrates. -- indeed be an honor and a privilege if confirmed by the senate to serve as the secretary of veterans affairs. To improve the lives of our country's veterans. And to help change the way the US Department of Veterans Affairs does business. Mr. President in your remarks just now you've made it clear what you expect. A V8 is more effective. More efficient. And that truly puts our veterans first. If confirmed by the senate my -- would be to lead that transformation. My life's purpose. Has -- been to improve the lives of others. I want to West Point to be an officer in the army to try to help free people who reliving -- non free societies. I became an airborne ranger infantry officer in the 82 airborne division. Because I wanted to be on the front line in leading that change. I joined the Procter & Gamble company 34 years ago because of its purpose. Which is to improve the lives of the world's consumers. Mr. President thank you for mentioning my father being -- father and uncle. Yes for our -- -- taking care of our veterans is very personal. We need to click here for the veteran at the center of everything that we do it veterans affairs. -- Procter & Gamble we always focus on our customer. At the VA the veterans our customer and we must all focus all day. Every day. I'm getting them the benefits in the care that they so earned. That's the only reason we're here. I look forward to working with the dedicated men and women of the veterans affairs to accomplish this mission. I'd like to thank my family for supporting me throughout my life. Especially during this next chapter. My wife -- My daughter -- my son in law Scott. And my son rob -- all here today. My parents Indians mother could not attend today but thank you for your love and support. Thank you again Mr. President. I look forward to working with you to transform veterans affairs to better serve our country's veterans thank you. And you have watching President Obama arrived here on his visit to the Department of Veterans Affairs -- Washington -- an update there. On the scandal that has rocked the Department of Veterans Affairs -- some officials have been fired he's at its staff and mobile units to treat veterans. They are sending some private clinics and -- overhauling the scheduling system we also heard they're at the end. From Bob MacDonald the former CEO Procter & Gamble in a West Point graduate. President Obama's nominee to now head the embattled agency want to go to Washington now. Our course senior Washington correspondent Jeff -- who joins us Jeff. Great to have you here tell -- about the pick what does this pick tell us about this White House and about the state that he is right. -- evidence of very interesting pick I think it sends the biggest signal that the president was looking for a manager he was looking for someone. Who had strong business experience to turn the surrounding me. The VA has several problems it has -- medical problems. So some inside the White House were saying that the president should be looking for someone who. I'm sort of -- hospital. -- experience but the overwhelming decision in consensus from inside the west -- I'm told is that the president knew he needed to find someone with management experience someone to really. Fit figure out how this. Behemoth of an agency could come into the in the 21. Century in some regards and again solving some of these problems -- he believes he said. Found that person in Robert McDonald. Certainly it managers spent so many years at. But comparatively McDonald's doesn't have quite as much military experience certainly -- graduate of West Point. I served as an army ranger for -- for some time but only about five years straight -- narrowly do you think bid that might play and into these confirmation hearings. Well certainly interest Sammy does not have military experience but that is not what most of the people in the administration believes that was needed right now. Mean as one administration official told merely say there are plenty military veterans in the VA -- -- -- who can run the place I think that is exactly what they're trying to find. In Bob McDonnell but it certainly helps that he is a West Point graduate it certainly helps that he. His familiar with the military some sort of a way of life and is certainly respectful of it as we just heard. In his remarks a few minutes ago. I don't think that this confirmation I'm hearing is going to be all that. All that -- or difficult it might be contentious but unless we find something -- we don't know right now. But -- -- -- -- just saw there sitting next to the president and the vice president he is eight Republican contributor he gave 5000 dollars to a Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign. He's a contributor to speaker John Boehner he lives in -- same hometown of of a Cincinnati Ohio he's very close to senator Robb. A Portman Republican of Ohio so I think that this is someone -- the -- the White House believes is a rock solid. The choice to get through these confirmation hearings. -- something can always come up in this that this is not. Like -- someone to be the Treasury Secretary are other things and this is someone. Who has. -- -- -- Experience that Procter & Gamble and I hope they can -- in a fairly quickly and really begin assessing the problems and then tackling the problems it is a big mess over there and that's an understatement. And how at how much is on the line here for the Obama administration I mean obviously heard the president surveyed say we need to change the way the DA does business you've been saying that as a candidate. Us for -- 2008 obviously spent a lot of time Nancy as he mentioned there's been some improvement. And some measures at the DA. In areas of education and other things like that it's certainly the wait times is not been one of the strong suits. How much is on the line here -- is the credibility of this White House in the area veterans care at risk with with the problems and how -- they are. -- -- I think you know it's already at risk we've been seeing that so. You know it so there's really one direction to VA can -- move -- that's up. And and the fact of the matter is he is taking this job at a critical time we're just ending. You know -- more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan the soldiers coming back have so many challenges different challenges than soldiers of of wars of different generations I think this is definitely. -- -- Turning point a critical time for the VA. Since so that's why it's probably -- that there's not. A Democrat who was picked or someone who has you know a long time pending on person this is someone who may bring -- new perspective to this and that's exactly what the White House's thinks the VA needs it needs you know something of an overhaul -- an outdated. Bloated agency many people think so we'll see what mr. McDonald can do it I -- again I think everyone's expectations should probably be in check here it is a difficult job -- difficult. I don't think he's walking into here -- -- don't expect. A fast changes changes overnight or well. Or perhaps even -- remaining time of the Obama administration. -- before we let you go with that problem so big there's a lot of talk about how congress needs to get involved in this and pass some legislation. Interest seeing kind of double take today the president just a few hours ago talking immigration and compromise and bipartisanship is dead he's declared it and that area. But on this issue on -- as you say that this nomination probably will go forward -- contentious but will go forward with Republican support. Is there bipartisan. Backing on Capitol Hill right now are with the wheels turning when it comes to some of these veterans issues in terms of the congressional perspective. I think they are -- I mean veterans are are one thing that neither side really wants to politicize -- mess with too much so I would be. Very surprised if if congress does not sort of follow the white house of the administration's -- or at least work together on this and money is not the problem I had experienced in conversation. -- just a week or so ago. With that congresswoman Tammy Duckworth of Illinois a Democrat and -- I was famously injured in the in 2004 when the helicopter pilot but she was -- writing -- fell down she went on to be an assistant at veterans the administration's secretary of forces -- -- congress and master some of the problems is that look. It's not money to VA is one of the only agencies think -- its budget. Approved in advance of money is not the issue here its organization. And sort of -- thinking some new things about how the VA but should go about it business here so I think this is a totally separate from immigration I think. And Senator John McCain and others will be asking very tough questions about this but Republicans Democrats won an equal all. Solution to this problem they both agree what the problem is on immigration that's slightly different so I think we'll see a more smooth sailing on this. At least the least in the short term debt and and we know you'll be watching very closely -- Capitol -- senior Washington correspondent just -- Jeff thank you very much for -- and -- -- -- -- to do with this story on the -- -- real time by downloading the ABC news -- and star in this story for exclusive updates on the go for now -- Devin -- in New York thanks so much -- -- Have a good afternoon.
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