Home > 105th Congressional Public Laws > Pub.L. 105-115 To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Public Health Service Act to improve the regulation of food, drugs, devices, and biological products, and for other purposes. <> ...

Pub.L. 105-115 To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Public Health Service Act to improve the regulation of food, drugs, devices, and biological products, and for other purposes. <> ...


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[[Page 111 STAT. 2277]]

Public Law 105-114
105th Congress

                                 An Act


 
 To amend title 38, United States Code, to revise, extend, and improve 
       programs for veterans. <<NOTE: Nov. 21, 1997 -  [S. 714]>> 

     <<NOTE: Veterans' Benefits Act of 1997.>> Be it enacted by the 
Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in 
Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

     <<NOTE: 38 USC 101 note.>> (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited 
as the ``Veterans' Benefits Act of 1997''.

    (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents of this Act is as 
follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. References to title 38, United States Code.

   TITLE I--EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY PROCESS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF 
                            VETERANS AFFAIRS

Sec. 101. Equal employment responsibilities.
Sec. 102. Discrimination complaint adjudication authority.
Sec. 103. Assessment and review of Department of Veterans Affairs 
           employment discrimination complaint resolution system.

           TITLE II--EXTENSION AND IMPROVEMENT OF AUTHORITIES

Sec. 201. Native American Veteran Housing Loan Program.
Sec. 202. Treatment and rehabilitation for seriously mentally ill and 
           homeless veterans.
Sec. 203. Extension of certain authorities relating to homeless 
           veterans.
Sec. 204. Annual report on assistance to homeless veterans.
Sec. 205. Expansion of authority for enhanced-use leases of Department 
           of Veterans Affairs real property.
Sec. 206. Permanent authority to furnish noninstitutional alternatives 
           to nursing home care.
Sec. 207. Extension of Health Professional Scholarship Program.
Sec. 208. Policy on breast cancer mammography.
Sec. 209. Persian Gulf War veterans.
Sec. 210. Presidential report on preparations for a national response to 
           medical emergencies arising from the terrorist use of weapons 
           of mass destruction.

  TITLE III--MAJOR MEDICAL FACILITY PROJECTS CONSTRUCTION AUTHORIZATION

Sec. 301. Authorization of major medical facility projects.
Sec. 302. Authorization of major medical facility leases.
Sec. 303. Authorization of appropriations.

              TITLE IV--TECHNICAL AND CLARIFYING AMENDMENTS

Sec. 401. Technical amendments.
Sec. 402. Clarification of certain health care authorities.
Sec. 403. Correction of name of medical center.
Sec. 404. Improvement to spina bifida benefits for children of Vietnam 
           veterans.

SEC. 2. REFERENCES TO TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE.

    Except as otherwise expressly provided, whenever in this Act an 
amendment or repeal is expressed in terms of an amendment

[[Page 111 STAT. 2278]]

to, or repeal of, a section or other provision, the reference shall be 
considered to be made to a section or other provision of title 38, 
United States Code.

   TITLE I--EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY PROCESS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF 
                            VETERANS AFFAIRS

SEC. 101. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT RESPONSIBILITIES.

    (a) In General.--(1) Chapter 5 is amended by inserting at the end of 
subchapter I the following new section:

``Sec. 516. Equal employment responsibilities

    ``(a) The Secretary shall provide that the employment discrimination 
complaint resolution system within the Department be established and 
administered so as to encourage timely and fair resolution of concerns 
and complaints. The Secretary shall take steps to ensure that the system 
is administered in an objective, fair, and effective manner and in a 
manner that is perceived by employees and other interested parties as 
being objective, fair, and effective.
    ``(b) The Secretary shall provide--
            ``(1) that employees responsible for counseling functions 
        associated with employment discrimination and for receiving, 
        investigating, and processing complaints of employment 
        discrimination shall be supervised in those functions by, and 
        report to, an Assistant Secretary or a Deputy Assistant 
        Secretary for complaint resolution management; and
            ``(2) that employees performing employment discrimination 
        complaint resolution functions at a facility of the Department 
        shall not be subject to the authority, direction, and control of 
        the Director of the facility with respect to those functions.

    ``(c) The Secretary shall ensure that all employees of the 
Department receive adequate education and training for the purposes of 
this section and section 319 of this title.
    ``(d) The Secretary shall, when appropriate, impose disciplinary 
measures, as authorized by law, in the case of employees of the 
Department who engage in unlawful employment discrimination, including 
retaliation against an employee asserting rights under an equal 
employment opportunity law.
    ``(e)(1)(A) Not later than 30 days after the end of each calendar 
quarter, the Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration 
shall submit to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and 
House of Representatives a report summarizing the employment 
discrimination complaints filed against the individuals referred to in 
paragraph (2) during such quarter.
    ``(B) Subparagraph (A) shall apply in the case of complaints filed 
against individuals on the basis of such individuals' personal conduct 
and shall not apply in the case of complaints filed solely on the basis 
of such individuals' positions as officials of the Department.
    ``(2) Paragraph (1) applies to the following officers and employees 
of the Department:
            ``(A) The Secretary.
            ``(B) The Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

[[Page 111 STAT. 2279]]

            ``(C) The Under Secretary for Health and the Under Secretary 
        for Benefits.
            ``(D) Each Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs and each 
        Deputy Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
            ``(E) The Director of the National Cemetery System.
            ``(F) The General Counsel of the Department.
            ``(G) The Chairman of the Board of Veterans' Appeals.
            ``(H) The Chairman of the Board of Contract Appeals of the 
        Department.
            ``(I) The director and the chief of staff of each medical 
        center of the Department.
            ``(J) The director of each Veterans Integrated Services 
        Network.
            ``(K) The director of each regional office of the 
        Department.
            ``(L) Each program director of the Central Office of the 
        Department.

    ``(3) Each report under this subsection--
            ``(A) may not disclose information which identifies the 
        individuals filing, or the individuals who are the subject of, 
        the complaints concerned or the facilities at which the 
        discrimination identified in such complaints is alleged to have 
        occurred;
            ``(B) shall summarize such complaints by type and by equal 
        employment opportunity field office area in which filed; and
            ``(C) shall include copies of such complaints, with the 
        information described in subparagraph (A) redacted.

    ``(4) Not later than April 1 each year, the Assistant Secretary 
shall submit to the committees referred to in paragraph (1)(A) a report 
on the complaints covered by paragraph (1) during the preceding year, 
including the number of such complaints filed during that year and the 
status and resolution of the investigation of such complaints.
    ``(f) The Secretary shall ensure that an employee of the Department 
who seeks counseling relating to employment discrimination may elect to 
receive such counseling from an employee of the Department who carries 
out equal employment opportunity counseling functions on a full-time 
basis rather than from an employee of the Department who carries out 
such functions on a part-time basis.
    ``(g) The number of employees of the Department whose duties include 
equal employment opportunity counseling functions as well as other, 
unrelated functions may not exceed 40 full-time equivalent employees. 
Any such employee may be assigned equal employment opportunity 
counseling functions only at Department facilities in remote geographic 
locations (as determined by the Secretary). The Secretary may waive the 
limitation in the preceding sentence in specific cases.
    ``(h) The provisions of this section shall be implemented in a 
manner consistent with procedures applicable under regulations 
prescribed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.''.
    (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is 
amended by inserting after the item relating to section 515 the 
following new item:

``516. Equal employment responsibilities.''.

     <<NOTE: 38 USC 516 note.>> (b) Reports.--(1) The Secretary of 
Veterans Affairs shall submit to Congress reports on the implementation 
and operation of the equal employment opportunity system within the 
Department of Veterans Affairs. The first such report shall be submitted 
not

[[Page 111 STAT. 2280]]

later than April 1, 1998, and subsequent reports shall be submitted not 
later than January 1, 1999, and January 1, 2000.

    (2) The first report under paragraph (1) shall set forth the actions 
taken by the Secretary to implement section 516 of title 38, United 
States Code, as added by subsection (a), and other actions taken by the 
Secretary in relation to the equal employment opportunity system within 
the Department of Veterans Affairs.
    (3) The subsequent reports under paragraph (1) shall set forth, for 
each equal employment opportunity field office of the Department and for 
the Department as a whole, the following:
            (A) Any information to supplement the information submitted 
        in the report under paragraph (2) that the Secretary considers 
        appropriate.
            (B) The number of requests for counseling relating to 
        employment discrimination received during the one-year period 
        ending on the date of the report concerned.
            (C) The number of employment discrimination complaints 
        received during such period.
            (D) The status of each complaint described in subparagraph 
        (C), including whether or not the complaint was resolved and, if 
        resolved, whether the employee concerned sought review of the 
        resolution by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or by 
        Federal court.
            (E) The number of employment discrimination complaints that 
        were settled during such period, including--
                    (i) the type of such complaints; and
                    (ii) the terms of settlement (including any 
                settlement amount) of each such complaint.

     <<NOTE: 38 USC 516 note.>> (c) Effective Date.--Section 516 of 
title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a), shall take 
effect 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act. Subsection (e) 
of that section shall take effect with respect to the first quarter of 
calendar year 1998.

SEC. 102. DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT ADJUDICATION AUTHORITY.

    (a) In General.--(1) Chapter 3 is amended by adding at the end the 
following new section:
``Sec. 319. Office of Employment Discrimination Complaint 
                  Adjudication

    ``(a)(1) There is in the Department an Office of Employment 
Discrimination Complaint Adjudication. There is at the head of the 
Office a Director.
    ``(2) The Director shall be a career appointee in the Senior 
Executive Service.
    ``(3) The Director reports directly to the Secretary or the Deputy 
Secretary concerning matters within the responsibility of the Office.
    ``(b)(1) The Director is responsible for making the final agency 
decision within the Department on the merits of any employment 
discrimination complaint filed by an employee, or an applicant for 
employment, with the Department. The Director shall make such decisions 
in an impartial and objective manner.
    ``(2) No person may make any ex parte communication to the Director 
or to any employee of the Office with respect to a matter on which the 
Director has responsibility for making a final agency decision.

[[Page 111 STAT. 2281]]

    ``(c) Whenever the Director has reason to believe that there has 
been retaliation against an employee by reason of the employee asserting 
rights under an equal employment opportunity law, the Director shall 
report the suspected retaliatory action directly to the Secretary or 
Deputy Secretary, who shall take appropriate action thereon.
    ``(d)(1) The Office shall employ a sufficient number of attorneys 
and other personnel as are necessary to carry out the functions of the 
Office. Attorneys shall be compensated at a level commensurate with 
attorneys employed by the Office of the General Counsel.
    ``(2) The Secretary shall ensure that the Director is furnished 
sufficient resources in addition to personnel under paragraph (1) to 
enable the Director to carry out the functions of the Office in a timely 
manner.
    ``(3) The Secretary shall ensure that any performance appraisal of 
the Director of the Office of Employment Discrimination Complaint 
Adjudication or of any employee of the Office does not take into 
consideration the record of the Director or employee in deciding cases 
for or against the Department.''.
    (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is 
amended by adding at the end the following new item:

``319. Office of Employment Discrimination Complaint Adjudication.''.

     <<NOTE: 38 USC 319 note.>> (b) Reports on Implementation.--The 
Director of the Office of Employment Discrimination Complaint 
Adjudication of the Department of Veterans Affairs (established by 
section 319 of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a)) 
shall submit to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and to Congress 
reports on the implementation and the operation of that office. The 
first such report shall be submitted not later than April 1, 1998, and 
subsequent reports shall be submitted not later than January 1, 1999, 
and January 1, 2000.

     <<NOTE: 38 USC 319 note.>> (c) Effective Date.--Section 319 of 
title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a), shall take 
effect 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
<<NOTE: 38 USC 516 note.>> SEC. 103. ASSESSMENT AND REVIEW OF 
                        DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS EMPLOYMENT 

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