Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie removed Deputy Secretary James Byrne from his post Feb. 3 following controversy about how VA responded to an alleged sexual assault at an agency medical center.

“I dismissed VA Deputy Secretary James Byrne due to loss of confidence in Mr. Byrne’s ability to carry out his duties. This decision is effective immediately,” the secretary said in a short statement on the VA’s website.

Byrne has defended VA’s progress on its transition to electronic health records (EHR) in front of Congress, and advocated for customer service improvements to amid website modernization.

“A lot of the things that we’re doing in these transformations are not visible to the American people … and that’s by design … [We] are making things better for them in an efficient manner,” he said of the VA’s IT modernization goals last month on a panel with CIO James Gfrerer.

VA officials have yet to confirm who may be replacing Byrne as deputy secretary.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.