NEW: Obama describes McDonald as "an expert at making organizations better"
"He's no-nonsense. He's pragmatic," the President says about his pick
McDonald is a West Point graduate and former CEO of Procter & Gamble
His nomination must be confirmed by the Senate
As expected, President Barack Obama announced Bob McDonald as his choice to head the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday.
He described McDonald, a West Point graduate and former CEO of Procter & Gamble, as one of the “nation’s most accomplished business leaders and managers.”
“He’s no-nonsense. He’s pragmatic. He does not seek the limelight,” Obama said about his pick.
McDonald’s nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.
The VA, a massive bureaucracy with more than 300,000 full-time employees, is under fire as it deals with allegations of alarming shortcomings at its medical facilities.
The controversy, as CNN first reported, involves delayed care with potentially fatal consequences in possibly dozens of cases. Eric Shinseki stepped down as head of the department in May after Republicans, Democrats and veterans’ advocacy groups joined in calling for his resignation.
“Let me state the obvious: This is not going to be an easy assignment,” said Obama, announcing McDonald’s nomination.
“He understands that grand plans are not enough; what matters is the operations that you put in place and getting the job done. Bob is an expert at making organizations better,” the President said.
A statement from the White House touted McDonald’s 33 years at P&G and described his as the “perfect person to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs during this important time.”
At P&G, he is said to have overseen more than 120,000 employees, reaching more than 5 billion customers worldwide.
In the Army, McDonald served as a captain, primarily in the 82nd Airborne Division and received the meritorious service medal. He received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from West Point and an MBA from the University of Utah.
It remains to be seen what kind of reception McDonald will receive on Capitol Hill, but members of Congress are adamant that change is needed.
“Bob McDonald is a good man, a veteran, and a strong leader with decades of experience in the private sector. With those traits, he’s the kind of person who is capable of implementing the kind of dramatic systemic change that is badly needed and long overdue at the VA,” said House Speaker John Boehner.
Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said in a statement to CNN that if McDonald is confirmed by the Senate, he would inherit a department “under a specter of corruption that may very well surpass anything in the history of American government.”
“He’ll need to root out the culture of dishonesty and fraud that has taken hold within the department and is contributing to all of its most pressing challenges. Quite simply, those who created the VA scandal will need to be purged from the system,” Miller said.
Since Shinseki’s resignation, the White House has deepened its investigation into what went wrong at the agency. On Friday, a White House report said the agency’s health care system is in need of complete overhaul because of unresponsive leadership and a “corrosive culture” that affects the delivery of medical care.
The report was prepared by Rob Nabors, who is Obama’s deputy chief of staff and who the President dispatched to assess the situation at the troubled agency.
“It is clear that there are significant and chronic systemic failures that must be addressed by the leadership at VA,” the reports reads.
“The department must take swift and appropriate accountability actions,” the report said. “There must be a recognition of how true accountability works.”