GAO to Investigate Systemic Racism at VA: Report

The U.S. Government Accountability Office is reportedly investigating widespread discrimination at the Department of Veterans Affairs after a survey showed nearly 80 percent of the department’s workers believe racism is prevalent within the organization.

The investigation, which is supported by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), comes in the wake of the survey, which involves 270,000 VA workers and revealed several disturbing incidents of racism in centers across the country, The Root reported.

The survey, “Government Accountability Office to Investigate Claims of Systemic Racism in Veteran Affairs,” was released this summer by the American Federation of Government Employees and engages Black employees who spoke of hearing their managers use the N-word on conference calls or being asked to serve as “living displays” for Juneteenth celebrations.

Despite the many problematic experiences shared by workers in the survey, the VA has denied the existence of any form of racial discrimination within the agency.

Nevertheless, the AFGE on Friday celebrated GAO’s decision to probe the survey’s findings.

“AFGE is pleased to hear that, unlike the VA, GAO is investigating our members’ serious claims of systemic racism within the department,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said in a statement, The Root reported. “For far too long, VA leadership has turned a blind eye to employee claims of racism, disparaged their credibility in the media, and refused to meet with the union to discuss this serious issue. These problems have been exacerbated under the Trump administration and will only get worse with actions like President Trump’s executive order banning diversity training at federal agencies.”

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