clock menu more-arrow no yes

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki will resign

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images News

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki will resign in the midst of an ongoing scandal over health care wait times, President Barack Obama announced Friday.

"A few minutes ago Secretary Shinseki offered me his own resignation," Obama said in a press conference. "With considerable regret, I accepted."

The decision is the Obama administration's most decisive action yet since the scandal broke at the Phoenix VA hospital. There, VA officials are accused of lying about wait times — to make it seem like they were seeing veteran patients in a timely manner. The inspector general's investigation confirmed some of the accusations and said the problems were, in fact, systemic.

Sloan Gibson, the VA's deputy secretary, will replace Shinseki as acting secretary until a permanent replacement is found. The White House also said it will keep a top aide, Robert Nabors, at the VA as investigations continue.

"Reforms should not wait," Obama said. "They should proceed immediately."

Some of those reforms could include new scheduling technologies at VA facilities: Obama, while speaking to press, referenced scheduling systems that rely on technology from the 1990s.

But the outdated technology doesn't explain the actions of Phoenix VA officials. Outdated systems shouldn't necessarily influence whether someone is willing to lie about seeing patients in an timely manner.

The technology problems were also known and reported by the Government Accountability Office for years, including recent 2013 and 2014 reports.

Obama explained that Shinseki offered his resignation to avoid providing a political distraction as the scandal and investigations continued.

"He is a very good man," Obama said. "He's done exemplary work on our behalf. Under his leadership, we have seen more progress on more fronts at the VA — and a bigger investment at the VA — than just about any other VA secretary."

Obama's announcement came a couple hours after Shinseki said he will fire leaders at the Phoenix VA hospital and hold bonuses for all executive VA officials. The move, however, was not enough to silence critics, including Vox's Matt Yglesias and Democratic and Republican lawmakers, who have been calling for Shinseki's resignation.

Update: This story was updated with the latest developments.