Recent news reports have raised a substantial question about who has authority to run the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) in the wake of Dr. David Shulkin’s departure from the agency. According to the White House, Dr. Shulkin resigned. Meanwhile, Dr. Shulkin himself has publicly insisted that he did not resign and was instead fired.
This inconsistency sets up a potential dispute over whether, under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (“Vacancies Act”), President Trump had the authority to appoint Robert Wilkie, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness, to serve as Acting Secretary of the VA.
As a result, contractors doing business with the VA have found themselves confronted with a series of knotty questions about the impact this uncertainty may have on the VA’s procurement priorities and actions.