Robert Gates Pt. 2

  • Aired:  01/15/14
  •  | Views: 21,235

"Duty" author Robert Gates recommends holding individuals in slow-moving government bureaucracies more accountable. (4:14)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK TO THESHOW.

WE'RE TALKING TO FORMERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT

GATES.

I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT, YOUKNOW, IN THESE YEARS AS A

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR BUSHAND OBAMA FACED DOWN PRETTY

FEARSOME ADVERSARIES, THE IRAQWAR RECONSTRUCTION, THE TALIBAN

RESURGENCE BUT YOU TALK ABOUT AFIGHT WITH A REALLY TERRIFYING

OPPONENT, THE V.A. BUREAUCRACY.

[ LAUGHTER ]WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO TAKE

CARE OF OUR MEN AND WOMEN WHENTHEY COME HOME IN THE MANNER

THAT THEY DESERVE?

AND WHY IS IT -- WHY CAN WE MOVEHEAVEN AND EARTH TO --

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]-- WHY CAN WE MOBILIZE SO

QUICKLY AND SO WELL FORINTERVENTION BUT NOT FOR

BACKLOGS OF PAPERWORK?

WHAT IS THAT DIFFICULT?

>> I WRITE IN THE BOOK THAT THEONLY BUREAUCRACY IN WASHINGTON

THAT IS MORE INTRACTABLE THANTHE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE IS

VETERANS AFFAIRS.

YOU CAN HAVE, I THINK, A VERYEFFECTIVE SECRETARY LIKE GENERAL

SHINSEKI WHO IS THESECRETARY NOW AND HAS BEEN SINCE

THE BEGINNING OF THEADMINISTRATION WHO IS ABSOLUTELY

COMMITTED TO GETTING THINGSRIGHT, BUT GETTING IT DOWN

THROUGH THAT BUREAUCRACY ANDGETTING PEOPLE WILLING TO CHANGE

THE WAY THEY DO BUSINESS IS VERYDIFFICULT.

BUT THERE'S ANOTHER ASPECT TOIT.

AND IT BRINGS US BACK TO ONE OFPRINCIPLE CULPRITS AND THAT'S

THE CONGRESS.

THE CONGRESS HAS MICRO MANAGEDVETERANS AFFAIRS IN SUCH A WAY

THAT CHANGING ANYTHING THAT HASTO DO WITH DEALING WITH VETERANS

REQUIRES LITERALLY AN ACT OFCONGRESS.

SO WE WOULD TRY PILOT PROGRAMSWHERE WE WOULD EXPEDITE

DISABILITY EVALUATIONS ANDTHINGS LIKE THAT.

TO BE ABLE TO GET THEM DONE IN100 OR 150 DAYS RATHER THAN A

YEAR OR TWO YEARS OR THREE YEARSOR MORE, BUT WE COULDN'T EXPAND

THAT ONCE WE SHOWED IT WOULDWORK WITHOUT A CHANGE IN THE

LAW.

AND THE THAT PROVED ALMOSTINSURMOUNTABLE.

>> Jon: SO YOU WERE PRESIDINGTHERE --

>> THIS IS AN INTERESTING CASEIN WASHINGTON.

IN THIS CASE IT'S NOT FOR A LACKOF MONEY.

>> Jon: NOT FOR A LACK OFMONEY OR DESIRE.

THE PEOPLE WHO WORK AT THE V.A.

I MET A LOT OF PEOPLE.

THEY ARE GOOD PEOPLE.

THEY WANT TO HELP THE VETERANS.

THEY ARE AS TRAPPED IN THISBYZANTINE SYSTEM AS ANYBODY

BESIDES THOSE WAITING. YOU TALKABOUT IN THE BOOK

WHEN YOU FOUND OUT THECONDITIONS THE VETERANS WERE

LIVING IN WALTER REED WERESUBSTANDARD.

YOU JUMPED IN THERE.

THERE WAS TWO COMMITTEES THATIMMEDIATELY WENT TO WORK THERE.

YOU CHANGED THE CULTURE ALMOSTON A DIME.

THINGS CHANGED ALMOSTIMMEDIATELY.

WHY CAN'T WE DO A SURGE LIKETHAT FOR THE PAPERWORK BACKLOGS

FOR THE BENEFITS?

>> ONE OF THE REASONS THINGSCHANGED ALMOST IMMEDIATELY I

FIRED THE COMMANDER OF THEHOSPITAL, THE SURGEON GENERAL OF

THE ARMY AND THE SECRETARYOF THE ARMY.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]THAT GOT PEOPLE'S ATTENTION.

PART OF THE PROBLEM INWASHINGTON IS THE UNWILLINGNESS

TO HOLD INDIVIDUALS ACCOUNTABLEFOR PERFORMANCE.

I TRIED TO DO THAT.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]I NOTICE IN THE HEADLINES IN THE

LAST DAY OR SO THAT THERE'S MORETROUBLE WITH THE AIR FORCE

NUCLEAR PROGRAM.

I FIRED BOTH THE AIR FORCE CHIEFOF STAFF AND THE AIR FORCE

SECRETARY FOR THEIRUNWILLINGNESS TO TACKLE PROBLEMS

IN THE NUCLEAR PROGRAM.

SO YOU HAVE TO -- WHETHER IT'SVETERAN AFFAIRS OR ANY PLACE

ELSE.

IT'S NOT JUST AT THE TOP.

YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO HOLDPEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE AND SHOW

THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES FOR NOTGETTING THE JOB DONE.

>> Jon: YES.

CAN YOU STICK AROUND A LITTLEBIT?

IT'S ON THE BOOKSHELVES NOW.

ROBERT GATES.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK ON THE WEB.

Loading...