The despair of the security officer

When VA security officer Pedro Cadenas resigned last month, was it a refusal to take responsibility without authority, or the act of someone afraid of change?

"I just can't do this anymore. My conscience and professionalism will not let me stay .... If these agencies want to hire security people they need to let them do their job." That was Pedro Cadenas, formerly the chief information security officer at Veterans Affairs, discussing his departure from the VA last month. He told Government Executive magazine that he spent close to four years trying to improve the VA's security procedures but was never given authority to implement.

"The department has no interest in doing the right thing," Cadenas said. "I was trained to do things the right way, not the good old boy way. I am having personal difficulty looking veterans in the eye and telling them that things will be OK."

The way VA Secretary Jim Nicholson sees it, Cadenas is one of those who are uncomfortable with having to work harder and with more responsibility. ""It's not going to surprise me if there are other people that choose to resign because their lifestyle or habits of work are going to change," he said. "There are some people that will decide to accommodate that, and there are some that will decide not to."

Or maybe something else is going on, suggested VA Committee chair Steve Buyers (R-Indiana):

"If it is the people who are supposed to be perfecting these changes and they are fighting against the culture and they are the ones who are leaving, maybe the wrong people are leaving," Buyer said.

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