Obama to nominate former Proctor & Gamble CEO as VA chief

McClatchy Washington BureauJune 29, 2014 

Veterans Affairs

Robert McDonald, CEO and president of Procter & Gamble, speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, Sept. 22, 2011. McDonald, 61, is a native of Gary, Ind., who grew up in Chicago.


President Barack Obama on Monday will announce his choice of Bob McDonald, a West Point graduate and former CEO of Proctor & Gamble, to head up the beleagured Department of Veterans Affairs, a senior administration official said.

If confirmed by the Senate, McDonald, who retired from P&G in June 2013, would replace VA Secretary Eric Shinseki who resigned in late May amid reports of widespread problems within the Veterans Health Agency, including allegations that some veterans died while waiting for care.

The White House says McDonald's 33 years at the consumer products giant "prepares him well for a huge agency with management challenges in servicing more than 8 million veterans a year."

House Speaker John Boehner hailed the choice, saying McDonald is "the kind of person who is capable of implementing the kind of dramatic systemic change that is badly needed and long overdue at the VA."

But he said it will only happen if Obama "first commits to doing whatever it takes to give our veterans the world class health care system they deserve by articulating a vision for sweeping reform. Our nation's veterans deserve nothing less."

McDonald oversaw more than 120,000 employees at P&G with operations around the world, selling products in more than 180 countries, in more than 2.5 million stores, reaching more than 5 billion customers.

McDonald, the son of an Army Air Corps World War II veteran, graduated in the top 2 percent of his class at West Point and served for five years before securing an entry level job at P&G.

He eventually rose to CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world, holding positions at just about every level, the White House official said.

"McDonald brings gravitas and well-honed management chops to the VA," the White House said.

And the White House noted that care of veterans was "deeply personal" for McDonald and his family: His wife’s father was shot down over Europe and survived harsh treatment as a POW and her uncle was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and still receives treatment from the VA.

He also has some bipartisan credentials: President Bush appointed McDonald to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations; he was reappointed by Obama.

Obama will make the announcement Monday at the department's headquarters in Washington.

Florida Republican Rep. Jeff Miller, who chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said Johnson will need to "root out" what he called a culture of dishonesty and fraud.

"Quite simply, those who created the VA scandal will need to be purged from the system," Miller said.

The White House released a scathing report Friday on the departmentartment, calling for its health branch to be “restructured and reformed” and warning that a “corrosive culture” has led to problems of veterans obtaining timely health care.

Obama, who had asked his deputy chief of staff, Rob Nabors, to review the department amid a growing scandal over nationwide gaming of treatment numbers at its hospitals, has asked Nabors to stay at the VA temporarily.


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