VA Office of Inspector General Releases Administrative Investigation Report Concerning John Thomas Burch, Jr.
VA employee used position for private gain and misused government resources connected to outside employment with veterans’ charity.
VA Office of Inspector General Releases Phoenix Consult Mismanagement Report
OIG review finds that the Phoenix VA Health Care System inappropriately discontinued consults for some patients in 2015.
Construction Company Owner, KC Veteran Indicted in $13.8 Million 'Rent-A-Vet' Scheme
Two men indicted in a scheme to fraudulently obtain federal Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business construction contracts.
Audit of VA’s Recruitment, Relocation, and Retention Incentives
OIG assessed how VA used recruitment, relocation, and retention (3R) incentives to develop and maintain its workforce in FY 2014. OIG conducted this audit following a complaint alleging VA awarded its Senior Executive Service (SES) employees recruitment and relocation incentives without adequate justification, and retention incentives without determining the employee’s intent to leave VA. OIG substantiated part of the allegation, finding VA's Office of Corporate Senior Executive Management (CSEMO) did not ensure SES recruitment and relocation incentives were properly authorized before making award recommendations to VA. OIG did not substantiate that VA awarded SES employees retention incentives without determining the employee’s intent to leave. VHA didn’t properly authorize 33 percent of the recruitment and 64 percent of the relocation incentives awarded to non SES employees. Most retention incentives awarded to SES employees and non-SES VHA employees, and half of retention incentives awarded to non-SES VACO employees, lacked adequate workforce and succession plans. VA needs to improve efforts to recoup payments when employees don’t meet the recruitment or relocation service agreement terms. VA’s inadequate controls over its 3R incentives represent an estimated $158.7 million in unsupported spending and about $3.9 million in repayment liabilities projected for FYs 2015 through 2019. OIG recommended the Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration review and update procedures for Administrations to ensure recruitment and relocation incentives are justified and properly authorized, and develop internal controls for Administrations to monitor facilities’ compliance with developing succession plans to reduce VA’s reliance on retention incentives. OIG recommended the capabilities of the HR Smart system be reassessed to reduce VA’s incentive repayment liability risks.
Review of Alleged Improper Non-VA Community Care Consult Practices at Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Charleston, South Carolina
On April 14, 2015, the Office of Special Counsel forwarded to the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary allegations of wrongdoing that occurred at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Charleston, SC, in early FY 2014. A multidisciplinary team of auditors and health care inspectors began to address the allegations. These allegations were: Management at the VAMC directed claims assistants to discontinue pending consult requests that were “aged out,” a phrase previously unfamiliar to the complainants; Fee Basis clerks were directed to discontinue consults by marking them as completed when they were incomplete; Management interfered in the consult request process, including directing care for ineligible patients and allowing the Fee Basis Unit chief to direct his own care. We partially substantiated the allegation that management directed claims assistants to discontinue consults, but found that practice to be consistent with the VAMC’s administrative policy. We substantiated the allegation that the Fee Basis clerks did not properly discontinue consults, identifying three that had been marked completed prior to medical documentation being uploaded into the patient’s electronic health record. We did not substantiate the allegation that management directed care for ineligible patients and allowed the Fee Basis Unit chief to direct his own care. We recommended the VAMC director initiate an independent review regarding one patient that experienced a delay in receiving specialty care and that the director ensure that consults that were not acted on within seven days can be tracked and managed in accordance with national policy. The VAMC director subsequently had the one patient’s case reviewed by three outside experts who determined that the delay did not change the outcome for the patient.
Owner of Chesapeake Barber College Pleads Guilty to $4.5 Million GI Bill Fraud
Virginia woman pleads guilty to $4.5 million GI Bill Fraud scheme.
Review of Alleged Misuse of VA Funds at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
The OIG substantiated an allegation that VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) staff provided free meals for medical residents without the required meal plan. The VAPHS Director could have authorized the meals under an approved meal plan for residents comparable to those at the facility’s index hospital, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. However, the Chief of Staff, who is responsible for reviewing this activity annually, overlooked the requirement for an approved meal plan. As a result, VAPHS used about $441,000 in appropriated funds to purchase catered meals for medical residents from April 2013 through March 2015 without such a plan. In addition, OIG did not substantiate the assertion that the meals were lavish, but the cost of these commercial meals was more than the cost of similar catered meals potentially available from the Veterans Canteen Service (VCS). VAPHS missed the opportunity to acquire potentially less expensive meals from VCS, rather than using this competitively selected commercial caterer. In January 2016, in response to our review, the VAPHS Director established a meal plan for residents.