Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 3, 2015

Veterans Affairs Department Scheduling Woes Extend from Care to Leases

Veterans Administration Hearing

Former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki takes his seat to testify for the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on “The State of VA Health Care” on Thursday, May 15, 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Department of Veterans Affairs is already in plenty of hot water over its patient backlog, and a Government Accountability Office report released this week on a similar brand of mismanagement elsewhere in the department isn’t going to help turn down the temperature.

The GAO report on department management of leasing for outpatient clinics was overshadowed by the department’s other woes, but found some significant problems. Of the 41 projects the GAO examined, 39 were behind schedule — one of them by more than 13 years.

Because construction of VA-owned properties is expensive, the department has increasingly leased out medical facilities to provide treatment, to the tune of $5.5 billion as of the fall of 2013.

Most of the scheduling delays came at the front end, before the department ever entered into a lease agreement, and on average the delays are 3.3 years. The problems included late or changing requirements, trouble finding suitable facilities and ever-changing internal procedures.

And the GAO found cost overruns, too, which stemmed from the delays.

In response to the report, department chief of staff Jose Riojas embraced the GAO recommendations. But he noted that many of the delays were out of the VA’s control, attributing them to such factors as environmental law compliance or protests of awarded contracts.

Under a compromise Senate bill offered in response to the VA patient backlog scandal, the department would be authorized to lease 26 new facilities in 18 different states.

  • American

    The VA is issued a budget of well over $2,000,000,000.00 (that’s 2 BILLION DOLLARS) every year. That is enough to take care of EVERY DISABLED VETERAN SOLDIER’S MEDICAL CARE & COMPENSATION, and still have MILLIONS left over!
    But, all the taxpayers’s money is not being used to care for our WOUNDED WARRIORS or to build more medical facilities. The VA EXECUTIVES, VA LAWYERS and VA CLAIMS PROCESSORS are stealing that money, and taking care of themselves.
    SOMEONE (The President, Congress, Senate, FBI) needs to investigate this IMMORAL, ILLEGAL PRACTICE that is continuing at all VA CENTERS THROUGHOUT THE NATION, AND AT THE MAIN VA HEADQUARTERS IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

  • Jim S.

    Why problems at only some VA facilities and others are unscathed! Simple, conservative long time ideology to privatize for corporate profit, with now Miller in the House and the clueless Burr in the Senate leading the charge for, off the peoples treasury, funding still mostly borrowed and VA decades under funded with the cheered on wars, along with greed, brought into government facilities to cause more costly problems with no concern as to the Veterans who served them while those served refuse to Sacrifice! In this case add in the only government branch doing anything consistently for, the Executive Branch, for not only Veterans but Military personal and their Families as well as the target on Gen Shinseki since speaking Military Truth and getting fired, ‘mission accomplished’!!!

    On All Veterans’ Issues – ALL GOP Lawmakers

    VA may have retaliated against whistleblowers, watchdog says

    As a Vet what the ‘watchdog’ report should have said: “GOPer VA employee’s within might have retaliated on their own Whistleblowers, mistakenly!!”

    “Why in 2009 were we still using paper?” VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers “When we came in, there was no plan to change that; we’ve been operating on a six month wait for over a decade.” 27 March 2013

    The more that comes out on this the continuation of the Decades Long SCANDAL, not a VA scandal, of those served through their lawmakers! The more most evidence gathering on, greed and politics where politics has no place, looks like another front in the long want for the GOP to privatize government agencies, that’s working real well where they’ve succeeded in parts of with them highly paid private contractors now hasn’t it, for corporate profit from the peoples treasury. And as they would still be called ‘government agencies’ the ability to legislate extra fee’s and costs, think our recent rubber stamped no bid contracts wars, especially the quick built merc army that spread into intelligence gathering and more, or the NSA intelligence gathering, running special ops operations and more. And when private , no oversite, no regulations, and absolutely no accountability, they would continue blaming those working in the agencies, the few to make it still look like a government agency, they do that now without mentioning them corporate government private entities!

    Notice that when attacking the VA, or any government agency and personal, in hearings on the news waves in their districts…….., they never related those at the huge problems found with that bottom line only, and with growing problems, found in the privatized already government work being done, nor within the whole corporate america new capitalism ideologies!

    “If military action is worth our troops’ blood, it should be worth our treasure, too — not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American.” -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

    USN All Shore ’67-’71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country ’70-’71 – Independent**

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    THE UNEMPLOYED NEED HELP NOW FROM THE SENATE !! The Democrats & Republicans have failed the more than 2.6 Million Unemployed Families, who have been Without an Unemployment Extension since late last December. For more than Five months now, these politicians have stalled and delayed the passing of the extension bill, leaving these families with no other source of income. While Billions of Tax Payer Dollars have been recently sent to the Ukraine in foreign aid, no such Aid has been approved for these millions of families in financial & economic difficulty. The Republicans have intentionally used the Extension Bill “Hostage” in the senate, for their own political agenda, and for political leverage. Both party’s have Forgotten and Ignored the Plight of these families, and have walked away from the issue. These families, many of whom, have lost Everything, and are in dire need of financial assistance, which they have paid into, from their pay checks, over the course of many years.

    • curmudgeon

      Judging by recent problems within our government bureaucracies you have to believe this it true.

      There’s hope for everybody.

      The Americans with No Abilities Act (ANAA), President Barack Obama and the Democratic Senate are considering sweeping legislation that will provide new benefits for many more Americans. The Americans With No Abilities Act is being hailed as a major legislative goal by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition.

      “Roughly 50 percent of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society,” said California Sen. Barbara Boxer. “We can no longer stand by and allow People of Inability (POI) to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favors to a small group of workers, simply because they have some idea of what they are doing.”

      In a Capitol Hill press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed to the success of the U.S.Postal Service, which has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. At the state government level, the Department of Motor Vehicles also has an excellent record of hiring Persons with No Ability (63 percent).

      Under the Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million mid-level positions will be created, with important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance.

      Mandatory nonperformance-based raises and promotions will be given to guarantee upward mobility for even the most unremarkable employees. The legislation provides substantial tax breaks to corporations that promote a significant number of Persons of Inability (POI) into middle-management positions, and give a tax credit to small and medium-sized businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires.

      Finally, the Americans With No Abilities Act contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the non-abled, banning, for example, discriminatory interview questions such as, “Do you have any skills or experience that relate to this job?”

      “As a non-abled person, I can’t be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them,” said Mary Lou Gertz, who lost her position as a lug-nut twister at the GM plant in Flint, Mich., due to her inability to remember righty tighty, lefty loosey. “This new law should be real good for people like me. I’ll finally have job security.” With the passage of this bill, Gertz and millions of other untalented citizens will finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

      Said Sen. Dick Durbin, Il: “As a senator with no abilities, I believe the same privileges that elected officials enjoy ought to be extended to every American with no abilities. It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her inadequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation and a good salary for doing so.”

      This message was approved by Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Jeff Neely: the patron saint of government workers

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