WASHINGTON (AP) — Two high-ranking officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs have been demoted in response to allegations that they manipulated the agency's hiring system for their own gain.

The VA says that Diana Rubens in Philadelphia and Kimberly Graves in St. Paul, Minnesota, have been demoted from senior executives — the highest-rank for career employees — to general workers within the Veterans Benefits Administration.

The VA's acting inspector general says in a report that Rubens and Graves forced lower-ranking regional managers to accept job transfers against their will. Rubens and Graves then stepped into the vacant positions themselves, keeping their pay while reducing their responsibilities.

Rubens and Graves refused to testify to Congress earlier this month, telling lawmakers they were asserting their Fifth Amendment rights to protect themselves against self-incrimination.