Former Defense Department Employee Sentenced to 40 Months in Prison for $2.5 Million Health Care Fraud -Veteran Admits Submitting Fraudulent Claims for Medical Expenses-
Subject Made Fraudulent Claims Against VA Foreign Medical Program, Sentencing Affirms OIG’s Commitment To Bring to Justice Those Who Steal From Programs for Nation’s Deserving Veterans
Civil Settlement Reached With Construction Company Falsely Claiming To Be Owned By A Service Disabled Veteran
US Attorney for New Jersey Credits VA OIG, SBA OIG Investigation for Leading to $1.3M Settlement with New Jersey Construction Company
Follow-up Audit of the Information Technology Project Management Accountability System
In June 2009, VA launched the Project Management Accountability System (PMAS). This follow-up audit assessed whether the Office of Information and Technology (OI&T) took effective actions to address recommendations we made to strengthen PMAS in two prior audit reports. OI&T has taken steps to improve PMAS. Although steps were taken to improve PMAS, more than 5 years after its launch, it still has not fully infused PMAS with the discipline and accountability necessary for effective oversight of IT development projects. Two OI&T offices did not adequately perform planning and compliance reviews. The PMAS Business Office (PBO) still had Federal employee vacancies and the PMAS Dashboard lacked a complete audit trail of baseline data. Project managers continued to struggle with capturing increment costs and project teams were not reporting costs related to enhancements on the PMAS Dashboard. These conditions occurred because OI&T did not provide adequate oversight to ensure our prior recommendations were sufficiently addressed and that controls were operating as intended. OI&T also did not adequately define enhancements in the PMAS Guide. As a result, VA’s portfolio of IT development projects was potentially being managed at an unnecessarily high risk. We also identified approximately $6.4 million in cost savings OI&T could achieve by hiring Federal employees to replace contract employees currently augmenting PBO staff. We recommended the Executive in Charge ensure compliance and planning reviews are performed, replace PBO contract workers with Federal employees, modify the PMAS Dashboard so that it retains a complete audit trail of baseline data, establish stronger cost reporting controls, and ensure OI&T reports enhancement costs on the dashboard. The Executive in Charge concurred with all but one of our recommendations and provided acceptable planned corrective actions. OI&T non-concurred with Recommendation 4, stating that contractors are needed due to increases in workload. OIG’s audit evidence provides a sufficient and reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions. Thus, where OI&T disagreed, we will continue our scrutiny and reporting and we will follow up on OI&T’s implementation of corrective actions. The Executive in Charge also provided technical comments, which were considered, but not included in this report. We continue to retain our position that it would be more economical to perform the PMAS Business Office workload by replacing contract employees with Government employees.
Iron Mountain Companies Agree to Pay $44.5 Million to Settle Alleged False Billing for Storing Government Documents and Data
$44.5 M Settlement Results from Joint Investigation by OIGs and Other Law Enforcement Agencies, VA Among Agencies That Contracted for Record Storage with Iron Mountain
OIG Monthly Highlights
Read about our top reports and investigations in November 2014 Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Evaluations Testifies Before House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on VA’s Longstanding Information Security Weaknesses Sondra F. McCauley, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Evaluations, testified before the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, United States House of Representatives, on the security of VA’s information technology (IT) systems. Ms. McCauley discussed the results of the annual audit of VA’s consolidated financial statement that for the 15th year in a row found IT security was a material weakness. She did acknowledge some improvements in VA’s IT security management but noted that these improvements require time to be fully implemented and to show evidence of their effectiveness. Ms. McCauley was accompanied by Mr. Michael Bowman, Director, Information Technology and Security Audits Division.
OIG Monthly Highlights
Read about our top reports and investigations in October 2014 CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Evaluations Testifies at House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee Field Hearing on the Operations of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, VA Regional Office Linda A. Halliday, Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Evaluations, testified at a field hearing of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, United States House of Representatives, on October 3, 2014. The hearing was held at the Pemberton, NJ, campus of Burlington County College and focused on the operations of the Philadelphia, PA, VA Regional Office (VARO). Ms. Halliday discussed the initial results of the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) unannounced visit to the VARO in June 2014 and advised that OIG’s work continues on the issues raised during the visit. These issues include allegations that mail was not scanned timely into Virtual VA—the electronic claims repository; staff were hiding mail or shredding mail; staff were cherry-picking claims to process; and the VARO improperly implemented Fast Letter 13-10, which was rescinded based on the OIG’s June 2014 management advisory memorandum to the Under Secretary for Benefits. The OIG will issue a final report when our work is completed. Ms. Halliday was accompanied by Ms. Nora Stokes, Director, Bay Pines Benefits Inspection Division; Mr. Al Tate, Audit Manager, Atlanta Office of Audits and Evaluations; and Mr. Jeffrey Myers, Benefits Inspector, San Diego Benefits Inspection Division.
Review of Alleged Mismanagement at VHA’s Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center
In August 2013, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs asked the Office of Inspector General to review allegations that the Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center’s (MAVERIC) security control weaknesses put veterans’ personal information and other sensitive information at risk. It was also alleged that the Boston Healthcare System (BHS) leased off-site commercial office space for MAVERIC staff the complainant considered wasteful. We substantiated the allegation that MAVERIC security control weaknesses put veterans’ personal information and other sensitive information at unnecessary risk. In December 2013, we found hard copy veterans’ personal information and unencrypted portable data storage devices unsecured in MAVERIC office space. The Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA), Office of Research Oversight (ORO), found similar issues in August 2013 when it conducted a review of BHS’ research groups. In light of the issues identified during our review and by ORO, we concluded that BHS had not taken sufficient action to safeguard the confidentiality of veteran personal information. This occurred because BHS did not establish sufficient oversight of MAVERIC physical security controls, such as ensuring secure storage of veterans’ personal information and encryption of portable storage media. We also substantiated the allegation that BHS leased off-site commercial office space, which we determined was under-utilized. VA BHS entered into a 5-year lease totaling about $938,000 without determining how much office space it needed and whether there was available VA space. As a result, we estimate VA BHS could spend about $593,000 over the 5-year lease period for under-utilized office space. We recommended the Director of Veterans Integrated Service Network 1, in conjunction with the Office of Information and Technology, improve oversight of MAVERIC physical security controls and implement a plan to maximize use of the off-site commercial space if continued need for the office space is justified. The Director of the Veterans Integrated Service Network 1 concurred with our recommendations and provided acceptable action plans.