On Wednesday, February 21, President Trump nominated U.S. Army veteran Paul Lawrence to be the next Undersecretary of Veterans Affairs for Benefits, filling a seat warmed only by interim officials since October 2015. Lawrence, who retired from the service as a captain, would seem to be a strong choice based on his background as a high-powered consultant specializing in organization efficiency. Lawrence still has to get through the confirmation process, however. If he is confirmed, Lawrence may have an easier transition than many appointees to high government posts who are often not fully prepared to manage within the federal bureaucracy. Lawrence, MT notes, “co-authored a report for Kaiser Associates titled The Onboarding of New Political Appointees in which the firm noted a lack of ‘organized, sustained efforts’ to help new federal nominees better begin their new roles in government.”
Lawrence’s nomination comes at what could seem like a make-or-break moment for VA Secretary David Shulkin, who has come under criticism by the Inspector General whose report noted “multiple improprieties related to an overseas trip last July.” If Shulkin survives the scandal, he has hinted that numerous high-level firings for insubordination may be in the offing.
One of Lawrence’s most important tasks as the new undersecretary for benefits will be to deal with the backlog of appeals for denied claims. A recent article from Stars and Stripes placed the backlog at 79,000, “meaning veterans have been waiting for decisions for longer than 125 days.” If Lawrence can clear that logjam, he’ll never again have to prove his bona fides as an efficiency expert.
The VA benefits attorneys at Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban have more than 200 years of combined legal experience. For more information on how we can help with your appeal, call 866-866-VETS or contact our office online.
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