VA Medical Center in Wisconsin Wasted $413,000 on Robots and a Laser
The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) received a complaint that the VA Medical Center in Madison, Wisconsin wasted $413,000 of taxpayers’ money on two robots and a laser. The complainant alleged that the medical center purchased two robots for $313,000 to deliver supplies and spent $100,000 on a laser lead extractor for extracting pacemakers and defibrillators, but does not use any of the items.
The OIG investigation substantiated the allegation that the medical center purchased two robots and never used them. Unidentified personnel tasked with delivering supplies throughout the facility decided that doing their jobs was a pain, so they spent $313,000 of your money to obtain robots to do their work. The OIG’s investigation discovered that the facility tried to use the robots, but a host of problems ensued. The robots made it impossible for patients and clinical personnel to walk in the hallways, the robots got stuck together when trying to pass each other in hallways, and the robots got jammed in doorways and against walls; you can’t make this stuff up.
The comical attempt to use robots to deliver supplies ended quickly, and the robots sat unused for two years before eventually finding their way to a couple of other VA facilities in Wisconsin and Illinois. The VA facility in Madison purchased the robots in September 2012 and in May 2016 the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois put the robots up for auction. The bureaucrats at Hines sold the robots to the manufacturer of the robots for $1,937; seriously, you cannot make this stuff up.
In December 2012, the Cardiology Department at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital (WMMH) leased a laser extractor for $100,000 after the Food and Drug Administration issued two recall notices related to faulty pacemaker and defibrillator leads. The brain trust in the Cardiology Department decided that they would lease a laser extractor to extract faulty leads in-house rather than sending veterans to non-VA hospitals; sounds like a plan. The OIG’s investigation uncovered that “despite having the laser lead extractor available for nearly two and a half years, the Cardiology Department was unable to use the device due to operating room (OR) space utilization and staffing issues.” In layman’s terms, the decision-makers in the Cardiology Department thought it would be cool to have a laser extractor, it’s not their money, and evaluated nothing before making the purchase.
The Cardiology Department never used the laser extractor. However, the “experts” in the department covered up the fact that the lease of the laser extractor was a waste of tax dollars by falsifying documents to make it appear as if the laser extractor was being used. The following is from the OIG’s report:
We also found that the documentation used to support the continued lease of the laser lead extractor was inaccurate. For example, the facility contract coordinator gave us a market research document prepared by the nurse manager of Cardiology in December 2013, which stated that the device was in use and meeting their needs—despite the fact that the facility had never used it. We found that, subsequent to the preparation of this document, the medical center had issued a contract effective May 1, 2014, to continue leasing the laser.
That’s right, the bureaucrats working in the Cardiology Department covered up their waste of your tax dollars by submitting fraudulent documents and renewing the lease on the laser.
What did the VA OIG recommend after uncovering these egregious wastes of tax dollars and subsequent cover-up that followed? The bureaucrats who work for the OIG did the usual and protected their fellow bureaucrats at the VA; they suggested better planning and processes.
The OIG never recommends terminating VA personnel no matter what the personnel is guilty of perpetrating on veterans and American taxpayers. The VA bureaucrats always remain nameless, faceless, unaccountable, unfettered bureaucrats employed by taxpayers to continue their ongoing mission to fail veterans and waste tax dollars.