In March of this year, Jan R. Frye, the deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics at the VA, sent a memo to VA secretary Robert McDonald. The findings published in the Washington Post this week paint a horrifying picture.
At least $6 billion taxpayer dollars per year have been squandered in illegal contracts for medical care and supplies — wasting our money, but more concerning: putting our veterans at risk.
In the words of Mr. Frye: “Doors are swung wide open for fraud, waste and abuse… 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.”
The memo goes into detail about the out-of-control and unchecked spending habits at the VA. From maxed-out spending cards to purchases without contracts, Frye writes that the VA’s actions “may potentially result in serious harm or death to America’s veterans. Collectively, I believe they serve to decay the entire VA health-care system.”
The House Committee on Veterans Affairs held a hearing Thursday morning regarding this report. Their final findings include:
- $6.1 million was spent on the two Human Resources conferences in Orlando, not $5.1 million as previously stated by VA.
- VA employees improperly accepted gifts including room upgrades, meals, limousine services, golf, spa services, helicopter rides, and tickets for the Rockettes.
- Contract violations and lack of oversight led to excessive costs and illegal or wasteful expenditures.
- There was inappropriate use of government purchase cards
- $97,906 VA spent on promotional items (including bags, pens, water bottles, and exercise bands) were determined to unnecessary and wasteful.
It’s been over a year since the long wait times for veterans at the VA were uncovered — yet the inadequacies are not limited to wait times. Mismanagement permeates the entire veterans affairs health care system.
We have much more work to do.
House Republicans have made our veterans a priority, passing several solutions that reform the VA and provide veterans with the support they need and deserve.
- H.R. 280, holds the VA accountable by preventing bonuses to be given to employees who don’t deserve them.
- H.R. 22, the Hire More Heroes Act makes it easier for employers to hire hard-working veterans, by exempting them from Obamacare requirements.
- H.R. 216, reforms the way the VA budgets their money — and as this recent memo shows, is essential.
But this isn’t enough. This report is a stark reminder that we must continue to question the VA, hold them accountable, and demand reform. House Republicans have not let up in pursuing a better alternative — and we will not stop until our veterans are given the health care they need and deserve.