A Sleeping Watchdog at the VA
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a lot of problems. Perhaps the worst of which is the extent to which corruption has become institutionalized within the VA.
To guard against corruption, the U.S. government employs Inspector Generals to monitor operations throughout its various departments in order to identify inefficiencies and illegal activities on the part of government bureaucrats. But for that system to work, the government’s Offices of Inspector General (OIG) must be alert and diligent in performing their assigned responsibilities.
In Denver, Colorado, a number of VA whistleblowers have come forward to claim that their local OIG has been asleep on the job. KDVR reports:
Imagine making close to $100,000 a year and having nothing to do at the office.
It’s what Denver whistleblowers say was reality for employees at the local Office of the Inspector General for Veterans Affairs.
That’s the very division in charge of wiping out waste, fraud and abuse for the medical system that serves the nation’s veterans.
“These are your tax dollars that are paying the salaries of these individuals to sit in an office and do absolutely nothing all day,” said one anonymous whistleblower to the Problem Solvers.
“After a while it became a joke,” is how a second whistleblower described it.
“Come into work and pretty much staring at the wall all day kind of just hanging out every day pretty much with nothing to do.”
The report continues to indicate that the Denver VA’s Office of Inspector General employs 11 people, whose annual salaries, without bonuses, total $1.2 million.
Worse, the report describes the retaliation taken by the local OIG office against one of the whistleblowers, a paid intern, who reported the bureaucratic misconduct to the Office of Special Counsel in Washington D.C.
That intern was told the program was supposed to lead to a full-time position and the office did in fact hire three more auditors in May.
But the Denver OIG informed the intern she would no longer be needed as of July 10. She suspects it has everything to do with her whistleblower complaint.
No officials at the VA’s idle Office of Inspector General in Denver have been held accountable for their misconduct.
A little over a year ago, the U.S. Congress passed the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. It would seem that rather than accepting accountability and the consequences for their ongoing misconduct, the VA’s bureaucrats are continuing to do everything they can to put their own personal interests ahead of those of the nation’s veterans and the nation’s taxpayers that they claim to serve.
Instead, we’re learning that the VA Accountability Act didn’t go far enough to put teeth into its ability to impose accountability over the VA’s recalcitrant and entrenched bureaucrats. Including its sleeping watchdogs.
Craig Eyermann is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and the creator of the Government Cost Calculator at MyGovCost.org.