Dent leads subcommittee hearing on VA oversight efforts

U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) led a subcommittee hearing on Thursday that explored how Congress can improve oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to ensure quality, timely care for veterans.

Dent, the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, made accountability and oversight of the VA key topics of the subcommittee’s first hearing on the budget for fiscal year 2017.

“Unfortunately our nation’s veterans have been forced to endure a number of questionable practices and outright scandals over the last few years,” Dent said. “The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) has played an important role in investigating and auditing many of these problems. (On Thursday) we focused on how Congress can support and bolster the OIG’s investigations to ensure that the VA is working to meet the needs of our veterans in an accountable and transparent manner. The bottom line is that our veterans deserve quality, timely care from the VA and a strong OIG helps makes that happen.”

The hearing also probed leadership at the Philadelphia VA Regional Office (VARO) in light of recent events. Diana Rubens was reinstated as the director of VARO after the Merit System Protection Board overturned a previous decision to demote and reassign her based on findings that she allegedly used the position for personal benefit.

“It is critical that Congress exercises strong oversight of the VA to ensure that the needs of our nation’s veterans are being met fully and expeditiously,” Dent said. “Our efforts last year allowed for the provision of additional resources for the VA OIG, and I look forward to continuing to work with the inspector general as we advance this year’s bill.”

A $10 million increases was provided to the OIG to improve oversight efforts in the Fiscal Year 2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act.

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