The Department of Veterans Affairs has been spending at least $6 billion a year in violation of federal contracting rules to pay for medical care and supplies, wasting taxpayer money and putting veterans at risk, according to an internal memo written by the agency’s senior official for procurement.
So how bad was it? This bad:
Jan R. Frye, deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, describes a culture of “lawlessness and chaos” at the Veterans Health Administration, the massive health-care system for 8.7 million veterans.
So bad, that:
“Doors are swung wide open for fraud, waste and abuse,” [Frye] writes in the March memo.
Adding that, “I can state without reservation that VA has and continues to waste millions of dollars by paying excessive prices for goods and services due to breaches of Federal laws.”
A year after news broke of the waiting list scandal at the Veterans Affairs medical facility in Phoenix, Arizona, President Obama finally visited the facility in March. And while they didn't quite roll out the red carpet for the president, they did clean the floors -- and spent $5,000 to do it.
The Veterans Affairs secretary lied about serving in the special forces, a report in the Huffington Post alleges.
"Robert McDonald, the secretary of veterans affairs, wrongly claimed in a videotaped comment earlier this year that he served in special operations forces, the most elite units in the armed forces, when his military service of five years was spent almost entirely with the 82nd Airborne Division during the late 1970s," the report reads.
If you work for the government and you don’t stay on the straight and narrow, then you risk being told to go home and take some time off … with pay and benefits. Might be for three months to a year – time enough to catch up on those overdue home improvement project. Could be for one to three years. Long enough to write that novel you’ve been thinking about.
Problems at the VA were largely – but not entirely – in the realm of scheduling. No one argued in favor the current system, which had veterans waiting in line for medical attention for months and even years. Even if the supervisors who cooked the books and paid themselves bonuses were all shown the door, the system would not be working as it should until the scheduling SNAFUs had been dealt with.
The legislative fix has been passed and signed into law, along with a generous appropriation of new money. Also, a new top person has been named and confirmed. So time to move on from the VA and its woes. But before doing so, consider the magnitude of the problems and their duration.
With the overwhelmingly bipartisan vote for the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, Congress passed the most significant reforms to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in decades. And, right on cue, here come the grumblings from the second-guessers.