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Veterans Crisis Line Badge

Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Remarks by Secretary Robert A. McDonald

Fourth Annual Alternative Dispute Resolution Excellence Awards Ceremony
Washington, DC
March 11, 2015

Cathy, thanks for that kind introduction, and thank you all for joining us.

Let me especially recognize Judge Robert Rigsby and other members of the BAR—good afternoon.

Will Gunn, good to see you here.

Our partners from the National Veterans Affairs Council—I’m looking forward to seeing you later this afternoon.

Other distinguished guests, and an especially warm welcome to awardees’ family and friends:

I’m honored to recognize VA employees who have excelled in the area of Alternative Dispute Resolution—A-D-R.

So let me first say to our awardees—both here in Washington, D.C., and in distant locations—congratulations, and thank you for your hard work.

If you want to put a number on the impact of VA’s Alternative Dispute Resolution process, you might start with these figures:

  • In Fiscal Year 2013, nearly 5,700 A-D-R cases were completed—almost 2,800 of them resolved—for an estimated cost avoidance of about $47.5 million.
  • In Fiscal Year 2014, there were nearly 5,500 cases completed, and over 3,000 resolved. We estimate that saved VA something in the neighborhood of $51.3 million.

Now that we’re deep in budgeting season, it’s easy to see how significant those savings to VA and taxpayers are. But in my view, there’s a more fundamental reason to have a world-class, effective, and responsive Alternative Dispute Resolution process.

It’s called MyVA

.

We are in the midst of our Department-wide MyVA transformation, what may well become the largest restructuring in our history.

And finding positive ways to resolve disputes is essential to our MyVA objectives

.

MyVA is first and foremost about improving Veterans’ experiences.

But it’s also about improving employees’ experiences. And you can’t get to that first objective—excellent customer service—without achieving the second.

To provide Veterans the seamless, integrated, and responsive benefits and services they deserve, we have to have the right culture, where employees are empowered to succeed in their important work.

Everyone I’ve met in my life wants to succeed. I have never met a person who tried to fail. And success is contagious. People like to be part of a winning team. It’s a virtuous cycle.

In my view, that’s what A-D-R is finally about—good people helping other good people succeed.

The great VA people we recognize today have set high standards in fostering work environments where employees feel valued, and accepted, and believe they can succeed.

So, to the awardees, thank you for your devotion to Veterans, for your dedication to advocacy, and you commitment to the Alternative Dispute Resolution process. You truly represent the best of what we are doing collectively to make VA a great place to work.

Now, let’s present some awards.