Tuesday, October 2, 2012

VA Inspector General Investigation Finds Corruption

Eric Shinseki, the "Beret General", now failing to oversee the VA he heads.

The Veterans Administration's Inspector General conducted an investigation into possible fraud, waste, and abuse involved in two professional development conferences in Orlando, FL in 2011. The investigation was initiated over a $5M price-tag associated with the conference. What the IG discovered was much more.

It turned out the conference, as well as a couple of planning conferences prior to the main one, cost over $6.2M, far exceeding authorized expenditures. That sum is $1.2M beyond the $5M reported to congress. In addition, incomplete accounting and poor receipt management indicates that number may be lower than the true cost to taxpayers. This is taxpayer money that was directed for the service and care of our republic's military veterans and their families. So, this excess represents a theft from two key demographics:  Military Veterans and US Taxpayers.

During the investigation, the VA-IG also uncovered systematic graft and corruption among eleven senior VA administrators who accepted "inappropriate gifts" that serve as graft or bribery. They accepted free meals, room upgrades, free massages, and other items of "significant monetary value". Taking such gifts is a violation of federal law and a criminal offense.

Details within the report draw concern for potential other incidents of waste and fraud VA officials may be committing against our veterans and our taxpayers. For instance, a "motivational" video used to introduce the training conference was produced for over $49,000. That video featured an actor doing a parody of George C. Scott's portrayal of General George S. Patton.

Other indicators of abuse and corruption include "special contribution awards" to VA workers totaling $43,018.

The compiled total of extraneous expenses at the conferences is currently estimated at $762,000. Examples:

$280,000+ in lodging expenditures above the agreed upon contract with Mariott

$154,000+ in unauthorized travel pay given to private contractors

$97,900+ in excessive and unauthorized promotional items

The House [of Representatives] Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) is conducting its own review and investigation of the findings in the report. 

The average disability stipend for a veteran rated at 100% disabled is approximately $20,000 a year. Consider how many disabled veterans this wasted tax money could have actually helped instead of being wasted by these leeches.

The waste itself raises eyebrows. However, this executive branch bureaucratic department wasted this money during times when our national debt is exceeding our GDP, government spending is out of control, and many Americans are calling for decreased and more responsible spending. After the GSA conference debacle reported earlier this year, the combination indicates wanton waste in this current presidential administration. It is unethical, immoral, and intentionally destructive to our nation.

The IG places the blame directly on the causes of poor leadership and a lack of supervisory oversight. However, those the IG names as responsible are likely just scapegoats with the systemic problem reaching higher up the chain. After all, they are just following the examples of their appointed and elected leaders.

Punctuating this waste, however, is another key detail of  the VA-IG report. Many of the names associated with the corruption are redacted. This begs the questions:  "Who are they protecting? What are they hiding?".  On could reasonable conjecture that this corruption goes to the top, to Clinton and Obama's shining star, Eric Shinseki, who ordered the investigation. Perhaps this leads even higher, to the one who has refused to reign in spending or enforce accountability -- Barack Obama.