WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Monday intends to nominate Robert A. McDonald, a former chief executive of Procter & Gamble, to be the next secretary of Veterans Affairs, a White House official said Sunday, betting that a global corporate officer can turn around a government health system that has been rocked by allegations of mismanagement and cover-ups of long patient waiting times.
The president last month accepted the resignation of Eric Shinseki, the retired four-star Army general he tapped in 2009 to lead the agency. By appointing McDonald, 61, Obama is turning to an outsider to overcome deep bureaucratic problems and the mismanagement that stemmed, in part, from a surge in the number of veterans needing care.
In the weeks since Shinseki’s departure, White House officials had explored three kinds of potential replacements: someone with deep management experience, someone with a military background similar to the department’s former leader or someone with a track record running a sprawling hospital system.
By picking McDonald, Obama signaled that he views the problems at the department as primarily a management concern, although his nominee is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a military service record. A report issued on Friday by Obama’s deputy chief of staff, Rob Nabors, described a “corrosive” management culture and “a lack of responsiveness and an inability to effectively manage or communicate” at the agency.
The choice is markedly different from one Obama made five years ago, suggesting that he no longer believes that a military commander can fix the substantial problems at the country’s largest integrated health care network, with over 1,700 facilities that serves more than 8 million veterans a year.
You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month
Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.
- High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
- Convenient access across all of your devices
- Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
- Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
- Less than 25¢ a week