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The Fatal Incompetence of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Posted in Bureaucracy2 years ago • Written by Defender Of LibertyNo Comments

     The Office of Inspector General (OIG) just released its findings on the alleged mismanagement at the Health Eligibility Center (HEC) of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  The OIG’s review of the HEC was prompted by the following questions:

  • Did the HEC have a backlog of 889,000 health care applications in a pending status?
  • Did veterans die while their health care applications were in a pending status?
  • Were over 10,000 veteran health records purged or deleted at the HEC?
The HEC was under investigation by the OIG because it processes health care applications for the following VA medical centers:
  • Atlanta VA Health Care System – Decatur, GA
  • Sioux Falls VA Health Care System – Sioux Falls, SD
  • Fargo VA Health Care System – Fargo, ND
  • VA Black Hills Health Care System – Fort Meade and Hot Springs, SD
     There were thousands of complaints from veterans because they submitted their health care applications to the aforementioned VA medical centers and never received a response. The veterans were left in limbo while their health deteriorated. The OIG’s review answered in the affirmative to all of the aforementioned questions, and substantiated the complaints lodged by veterans.

      In the last ten years, the VA’s budget has gone from $73.7 million to $163.9 million, The Obama administration’s FY 2016 budget request for the VA is $168.8 million.Despite the ever-increasing budget of the VA, the money has yet to solve any of the problems that plague the VA because fedgov bureaucrats are not capable of delivering quality care to anybody, no matter how much money you give them. 

     What has been the return on investment for veterans and American taxpayers? The following is a list of returns from the billions of taxpayer dollars spent on the VA:
  • 867,000 records are in a pending status.
  • At least 477,00 of the pending applications did not have dates.
  • The majority of the pending applications have been inactive for years, meaning nobody at the HEC did anything to process the applications. The applications were submitted by clerks at the VA medical centers to the HEC’s Enrollment System (ES) and nobody worked them.
  • As of September 2014, more than 307,000 applications were submitted by veterans who are now deceased. 
  • The OIG revealed in its report that VA employees “incorrectly marked unprocessed applications as completed and possibly deleted 10,000 or more transactions from the Workload Reporting and Productivity (WRAP) system over the past 5 years.” 
  • The OIG discovered that the VA failed to process applications going back to September 2012.
These examples are only a small sampling of the fatal incompetence that plagues the VA. What do you expect from fedgov bureaucrats who belong to a public sector union?
     There is one incident in the OIG’s report that is a microcosm of how government works. In September 2012, HEC management initiated an “administrative investigation into allegations that HEC staff shredded health care applications without proper processing.” The investigation concluded that applications were shredded by HEC staff, which prompted management to close the investigation and reveal nothing to the VA OIG. 
     When the OIG pressed the former director of HEC on why he failed to report the findings of the aforementioned investigation, he claimed that “after consulting with Regional Counsel in October 2012, it was determined unnecessary to refer the matter to the VA OIG because their investigation found no evidence that a crime actually occurred.” Of course! The work expectations for fedgov bureaucrats is simple, try not to commit a crime. You can be lazy and/or incompetent, but don’t commit a crime, at least not one that cannot be covered up.
     What the former director of HEC failed to mention is that he issued a memorandum in November 2010 in which he wrote: “The investigation was inconclusive of the determination of deliberate destruction/shredding of health care applications.” However, the deputy director of the HEC provided to the OIG a memorandum drafted in December 2010 that provided details of a subsequent review by HEC management that determined applications were missing from the ES. According to the OIG, the memorandum stated that “HEC management identified individual HEC staff who had incorrectly marked applications as complete in WRAP, and had hidden the applications in their desks for processing at a later date.” The VA did not terminate a single bureaucrat for the destruction and hiding of applications.
     The VA is incapable of taking care of America’s veterans. It is possible that 307,000 veterans died while waiting for the VA to process their health care applications, so why is it necessary to continue down the same path? Veterans need quality care not a unionized bureaucracy made up of lowly members of the Party whose only allegiance is to themselves and the Inner Party. 
     Veterans can have the quality care they’ve earned by allowing them to opt out of VA care. Why not give veterans the option to access health care services provided in the private sector? The private sector is capable of delivering health care in a seamless, effective manner unlike the VA. 

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