Following the release of an internal memo by Jan R. Frye, deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the House Veterans Committee held a hearing today to look into the claims of "lawlessness and chaos" in the VA's approach to acquisitions and contracts.
Specifically, it is alleged that VA employees utilized purchase cards to circumvent established procedure for acquiring goods and services. As a result, billions of dollars intended for veterans care was wasted in an unaccountable way. A report from the Washington Post further details the extent of this abuse.
"Every year since I have been in Congress, VA officials have come before this Committee claiming that a lack of funds prohibits them from properly fulfilling their duty to care for vets. Every year, in response, we have increased the annual funding of the VA to ensure our veterans get the care they have earned. Now we learn that the billions of dollars we appropriated to fix the problems at the VA have instead been wasted by bureaucrats. The entrenched culture of lawlessness and corruption at this Department has to stop. This hearing continues our work to address the many issues at the VA, and I intend to pursue every option available to ensure that every dollar of VA money goes to improving the lives of veterans," said Dr. Benishek, who worked at the VA in Iron Mountain, MI for over 20 years.
At the hearing, VA officials testified to widespread excessive purchasing, inadequate oversight, and lackadaisical record keeping. It is estimated that $6 Billion is wasted annually through the purchase card program.
In response, Congressman Benishek is in the process of drafting the Demanding Accountability for Veterans Act, a bill that would require the VA Inspector General to indicate the names of individuals engaged in wrongdoing and implement steps to hold VA employees accountable for their actions.