OIG Monthly Highlights
Read about our top reports and investigations in April 2015 Assistant Inspector General Testifies Before House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on Mismanagement and Data Manipulation at the Philadelphia and Oakland VA Regional Offices Linda A. Halliday, Assistant Inspector General (AIG) for Audits and Evaluations, testified before the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, United States House of Representatives, on the results of the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) recently published reports that substantiated allegations of mismanagement and data manipulation at the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, VA Regional Office (VARO) and allegations of claims mismanagement at the Oakland, California, VARO. Ms. Halliday told the Committee that OIG identified serious issues at the Philadelphia VARO involving mismanagement, and that OIG made 35 recommendations for improvement ncompassing operational activities relating to data integrity, public contact, financial stewardship, mail mismanagement, and other areas of concern.
FY 2014 Review of VA’s Compliance With the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act
We conducted the fiscal year (FY) 2014 review to determine whether VA complied with the requirements of the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA). VA reported improper payment estimates totaling approximately $1.6 billion in its FY 2014 Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) compared with $1.1 billion in its FY 2013 PAR. The increase was due primarily to higher estimated improper payments for the Compensation and Pension programs under the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). VA did not comply with two of six IPERA requirements for FY 2014. VBA reported four programs that did not meet its reduction targets. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) also reported a missed target for one program. Further, VBA did not meet the requirement to publish an improper payment estimate for one program because the estimate was not considered reliable. Additionally, VA’s risk assessments should incorporate a stronger consideration of contracting risk. VBA and VHA should make improvements in their sample evaluation procedures. VBA’s Compensation program crossed an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) threshold for potential designation as a high-priority program due to our review identifying additional improper payments within the sample transactions. Thus, we increased the projection of the potential improper payment in VBA’s Compensation program.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony concerning the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) work related to VA’s Purchase Card Program. I am accompanied today by Mr. Quentin G. Aucoin, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations (Field Operations), Mr. Kent Wrathall, Director, Atlanta Office of Audits and Evaluations, and Mr. Murray Leigh, Director, Financial Integrity Division, Office of Audits and Evaluations.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to provide information on the work of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) regarding the access to and quality of care and services for women veterans from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Brookings Names VA OIG as Second Most Productive OIG in Government Based on Last 5 Years’ Return on Investment
In a paper issued April 30, 2015, the Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings issued a paper assessing the benefits Office of Inspector General bring to government. The paper focuses on Return on Investment (ROI)—the most quantifiable metric of agency performance. The Social Security OIG was first with an ROI of $43.60 to $1, the VA OIG was second with $38 to $1, and HUD OIG was third with $29.59 to $1. http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2015/04/30-inspectors-general-roi-hudak-wallack.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) health care reviews and audits of programs and performance of the Veterans’ Health Administration (VHA). I am accompanied by Gary Abe, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Evaluations, Office of Inspector General. VHA is at risk of not performing its mission as the result of several intersecting factors. VHA has several missions, and too often management decisions compromise the most important mission of providing veterans with quality health care. Leadership has too often compromised national VHA standards to meet short term goals. The Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN) do not consistently support local VA Medical Centers (VAMC) to encourage success and proactively address areas of risk. Resource management data gaps make the cost-effective delivery of a national benefit challenging. VHA’s internal processes are inefficient and make the conduct of routine business unnecessarily burdensome.
Review of VA's Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) Contracts' Estimated Costs Savings
In April 2014, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) received a request from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations to review VA’s FY 2014 Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) costs and the $13 million cost savings estimate presented in VA’s budget submission. We could not attest to the reliability and accuracy of VA information regarding the methodology and calculation of the PC3 cost savings estimate. Our analysis of available PC3 data determined that inadequate price analysis, high up-front contract implementation fees, and low PC3 utilization rates impeded VA from achieving its $13 million PC3 cost saving estimate. We found that in FY 2014 PC3 cost about $14.9 million more than if VA had used the non-VA care program to purchase the same health care services. VA assumed that the PC3 contractors would develop adequate provider networks; VA medical facilities would achieve desired 25 to 50 percent contract utilization rates; and accrued PC3 cost savings for health care services would more than offset the contractors’ fees. These flawed assumptions contributed to significant PC3 contract performance problems and a 9 percent PC3 utilization rate in FY 2014. We recommended the Interim Under Secretary for Health revise VA’s PC3 cost analyses and address VA’s low PC3 utilization rates. Additionally, we recommended the Executive Director, Office of Acquisition, Logistics, and Construction, ensure all required contract documents are maintained in the PC3 contract files.