Dent grills Veterans Administration OIG on recent failures

Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies held a hearing, reviewing testimony from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the Veterans Administration.

The intent of the hearing was to discuss VA processes with the OIG, which provides oversight for VA programs such as benefits administration, financial management, information technology, security and health care services. U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), chairman of the committee, led the proceedings, providing an opening statement.

“This is probably one of the most active periods in recent memory for your office,” Dent, addressing Richard J. Griffin, deputy inspector general for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said. “With your audits of whistleblower allegations in the wait list scandal and the reports that you are required to make to Congress by the Choice Act.”

Dent proceeded to grill Griffin about the waiting list scandal at the Phoenix VA Hospital, reminding him that names of veterans who were unable to receive health care services were still turning up.

“(Manipulating wait times) was certainly widespread throughout the system,” Griffin said.

Dent then switched his questioning to the issues surrounding the Philadelphia VA Regional Office, which reportedly included misplaced mail, unprocessed claims and call center problems. The Congressman specifically discussed the ongoing OIG investigation of the Philadelphia office, which led to a change of leadership at the facility.

“Frankly it was a problem that just kept growing,” Griffin said. “Every time we went back there, more issues were put on our plate.”

Griffin noted that new leadership had been installed at the Philadelphia office.

“The independent investigatory work of the VA Office of Inspector General and the oversight responsibilities of the MilCon/VA subcommittee are more important now than ever before,” Dent said at the completion of the hearing. “Today’s hearing was a sobering reminder of the scope of the challenges facing the VA and the veterans it serves.”