The No. 2 official at the Department of Veterans Affairs says he still intends to punish two senior officials accused of manipulating the agency's hiring system for their own gain.

Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson demoted Kimberly Graves and Diana Rubens last month after they forced lower-ranking managers to accept job transfers and then stepped into the vacant positions themselves.

The demotions were later reversed by federal judges, who said that higher-ranking officials knew about the women's plans and did nothing to stop them.

Gibson said he did not believe it was right for Rubens and Graves to go unpunished when charges against them have been sustained.

Rubens is director of the Philadelphia regional office for the Veterans Benefits Administration, while Graves heads the St. Paul, Minnesota, benefits office.