President-elect Donald Trump has not yet selected a candidate to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.
He has looked at about a dozen candidates, but the position remains unfilled as confirmation hearings begin this week for his other Cabinet positions, according The Washington Post.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is the second-largest federal department and is the country's largest health-care system, The Post reports.
The president-elect has met with retired military leaders, politicians, and healthcare executives, and he has met multiple times with several. A number of contenders have turned down Trump's offer, The Post notes.
Reince Priebus, who will be Trump's chief of staff, has urged the president-elect to look at more women and minorities for his candidate, according to a source who asked to remain anonymous. Some service groups have tried to convince Trump to keep the current secretary, Republican Robert McDonald.
The top candidate, however, appears to be Iraq War veteran and Fox News Channel contributor Pete Hegseth. Trump aides last week told him he was still in the running, The Post said.
The VA has 360,000 employees and a $180 billion budget, with a system of 1,700 medical centers. Trump has been clear that he wants sweeping changes to the department, which has come under fire for long delays.
Trump wants to expand private health care outside the VA system and he wants to make it easier to fire poorly performing employees, The Post reports.
The job might appear too difficult for some potential candidates, says Susan Lukas, a former VA budget official.
"Who in their right mind wants to go in and take on what seems to be insurmountable problems?" Lukas told The Post.
Philip Carter, Iraq War veteran and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, also pointed out how difficult the job would be.
"There may be 50 or 100 people in American who have the bona fide qualifications to run VA. Most of them don't want the challenge or don't want to be asked because they don't align with Trump politically. If you pick badly, it will blow up in your face," Carter said in the Post report.
"We appreciate that a lot of thought is going into picking the next VA Secretary. But we don't want to see a delay in the nomination affect the Department's transition between administrations or impede the president-elect's VA reform agenda for 2017," said Dan Caldwell, leader of the Concerned Veterans for America, according to The Post.
Whoever the new VA secretary is, he or she will need to seek out help from the private sector, according to The Denver Post.
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