Department of Veterans Affairs officials want to double the pay of top administrators and move them into the same employment classification as medical doctors. They say the new, lucrative employment classification, Title 38, would help retain talent and make it easier to fire poor performers.

There is little evidence that either of these statements is true.

Private hospital administrators make more than the $180,000 most VA directors earn. But private sector hospitals are unlikely ever to hire from among career VA bureaucrats, most of whom have unremarkable qualifications, rose to management through tenure rather than talent, and benefitted from a closed pipeline that rarely hires from the outside.

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