September 27, 2016

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear Sarge
What’s new regarding the VA Compensation program?

Jason D
Via the internet

Dear Jason
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced the awarding of 12 contracts between 5 firms totaling $6.8 billion to improve the Medical Disability Examination process (Compensation and Pension or Comp and Pen Examinations) for Veterans. The awards are intended to reduce Veterans’ wait times for examinations for service-connected benefits, thereby providing faster claims decisions in a more efficient and streamlined way.

“This is good news for Veterans who are waiting for VA to determine whether a condition can be considered service-connected,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “For these Veterans, we want the process to be smoother – from beginning to end. When we announced the MyVA initiative in 2014 to improve Veterans’ experience with VA, that meant looking at every process and every product. These awards represent a way for us to improve a significant process for Veterans.”

Contracts were awarded to the following firms:

  • VetFed Resources, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia;
  • Logistics Health, Inc., La Crosse, Wisconsin;
  • Medical Support Los Angeles, A Medical Corporation, Pasadena, CA;
  • QTC Medical Services, Inc., Diamond Bar, California; and
  • Veterans Evaluation Services, Inc., Houston, Texas.

The contracts are being awarded for a period of 12 months with (4) 12-month options, with an aggregate ceiling of $6.8 billion. The contracts will be managed by VA’s Strategic Acquisition Center based in Frederick, MD.

Shaft NotesBlue military style mailbag with BAVF red letters stenciled on it. Below the BAVF is a tag that says SGT. SHAFT
Chairman Miller released the below statement regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General report on the replacement Denver VA medical center, the biggest construction failure in VA History.

“To this day, the department’s handling of the replacement Denver VA medical center continues to be a case study in government waste, incompetence and secrecy. This report makes two things abundantly clear: there are many more people responsible for the biggest construction failure in VA history than the department has led the public to believe, and it is possible that former VA construction chief Glenn Haggstrom or other employees committed perjury in hiding information regarding the project’s cost overruns during congressional testimony. Consequently, I will be asking the Department of Justice to determine whether charges are warranted against Haggstrom or others, and I am renewing my call for VA to immediately fire Office of Construction and Facilities Management Executive Director Stella Fiotes, who has presided over much of the Denver project’s mismanagement yet remains firmly entrenched at the department. It’s well past time for the department to fire all of those responsible for botching this project or explain to America’s veterans and American taxpayers why these individuals have earned the right to continued VA employment.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs


Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and a bipartisan group of Congressional Members delivered a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter calling for the Department of Defense (DoD) to address millions of dollars misused by DoD personnel on government travel credit cards.The letter follows a recent Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD OIG) report revealing inadequate action by the DoD to respond to multiple cases of abuse in recent years.

“In just one year, from July 2013 to June 2014, an initial audit found 4,437 transactions totaling $952,258 in which government travel cards were likely used at casinos for personal expenditures.Furthermore, the report noted more than 900 instances of these government-issued cards being used at adult entertainment establishments, totaling $96,576,” the lawmakers wrote.“The most recent report found that the Department of Defense has failed to take appropriate actions to resolve the issues highlighted by the previous audit.The Department has not taken steps to eliminate additional misuse of the government travel cards, initiated reviews for improper payments, or consistently considered the security implications of the misused travel cards.As a result, the government travel card program remains susceptible to continued waste and exploitation.”

The letter was also signed by Reps.Jim Costa (CA-16), Paul Gosar (AZ-04), Walter B.Jones (NC-03), Seth Moulton (MA-06), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09).Full text is available below:

Dear Secretary Carter,
We are writing to express our concern about DoD personnel misusing government travel cards and American tax payer dollars.

The Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD OIG) has investigated these abuses on multiple occasions in recent years. The most recent investigation resulted in a report, issued on August 30, 2016, in which the DoD OIG found the Department has not done enough to respond to the infractions. The report findings also suggest the Department still maintains insufficient processes to address the problem: insufficient instruction on the appropriate use of the government travel card; improper reimbursements for personal expenses; and a tepid response from DoD management to correct these issues. Most troubling is that the most recent audit was conducted as a response to a previous report on DoD misuse of government travel cards released in 2015.

In a one year period from July 2013 to June 2014, the initial audit found 4,437 transactions totaling $952,258 in which government travel cards were likely used at casinos for personal use. Furthermore, the report noted more than 900 instances of cards being used at adult entertainment establishments, totaling $96,576.

The most recent report found that the DoD has not taken appropriate actions to resolve the issues highlighted by the previous audit. The DoD has not taken steps to eliminate additional misuse, initiate reviews for improper payments, or consistently considered the security implications of the misused travel cards. As a result, the government travel card program remains vulnerable to continued waste and exploitation.

The DoD IG made a number of recommendations to re-focus the Department’s efforts on identifying, investigating, and reporting the misuse or abuse of government travel cards. In light of the Department’s halfhearted response to the previous audit, we request a response on how the Department intends to implement the DoD IG’s recommendations. We will continue to monitor the Department’s progress.

We thank you for your attention to our concerns. We welcome further discussion on this issue.

 

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