VA appoints new HR assistant secretary

The Veterans Affairs Department has a new human resources director.

VA appointed Peter Shelby to be the department’s new assistant for human resources and administration.

His LinkedIn page indicates that he has been on the job since May.

Shelby has a long career in HR, both in the public and private sectors.

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He served in the Marine Corps for 24 years and held multiple positions for the service. He led recruiting programs for the Marines and developed training programs for the service as the chief of recruiting policy.

He then served as the vice president of human resources for finance and administration at the Defense Intelligence Agency and chaired the Chief Learning Officers Council.

After leaving government in 2014, he served as the chief talent officer for the Related Companies and then founded Transcendent Performance, a company that helps business leaders predict talent needs and assess and reward high-performing employees.

VA declined to comment on the appointment.

Shelby replaces Pam Mitchell, who served as the acting assistant secretary for HR and administration, and Meghan Flanz, who held the position during the second half of 2016.

The office oversees human resources, diversity and inclusion initiatives, labor-management relations, senior executive management, conflict-resolution and veterans employment.

Shelby comes on board as the department awaits much-anticipated, new accountability legislation from Congress.

In a press conference on the “state of VA” last week, VA Secretary David Shulkin criticized the department’s current disciplinary procedures and firing methods. He called VA’s current accountability processes “broken” and added that the senior executive expedited removal authority the department once used under the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act “isn’t working.”

The Senate is expected to consider the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act later this week. The bill, which Senate VA Committee leadership Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), would place many of the department’s accountability decisions in a new and separate office.

Shelby’s arrival also comes as Congress considers new legislation that would place new limits on official time for some VA employees.

The pace to appoint new deputy and assistant secretaries within VA and other departments has seen a relatively slow start. But Shulkin indicated that the department may fill other top leadership positions in the near in future.

“I do believe that you will see several other announcements in the next week or two about positions that we will be filling,” he said last week.

Some positions, such as VA’s undersecretary for health, first require that a commission conduct a national search and recommend several candidates to the secretary and president.