STATEMENT OF DEAN S. BILLIK, FAAMA, DIRECTOR
CENTRAL TEXAS VETERANS HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS
COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS
U. S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
October 23, 1997
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
It is an honor and a privilege to appear before you today to testify regarding alleged mismanagement practices while I was Director of the Charleston VA Medical Center.
I welcome the opportunity to address these allegations.
The VA Inspector General completed a thorough investigation of 27 allegations of mismanagement on January 10, 1997. They found no evidence of mismanagement. Of the 27 allegations ranging from gold fixtures in the bathroom of my office to spending $40,000 on a fish tank, five (5) were substantiated and four (4) others were partially substantiated. Of these, a total of six (6) recommendations were made. I will now address each substantiated and partially substantiated allegation and the six (6) recommendations.
Partially substantiated allegations:
Allegations that excessive amounts of money were spent for remodeling the Director's office and allegations related to the remodeling of the Director's office were thoroughly investigated and not substantiated.
Allegations that friends were non-competitively promoted were thoroughly investigated by the IG and not substantiated.
There has been concern expressed about the hiring of Ms. Shannon Falcone. Ms. Falcone was an Administrative Resident at the VA Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. As the Associate Director of that center from 1985 through 1992, I had the opportunity to work with and know more than 18 such residents.
Due to turnover of staff in my office in Charleston, I recruited Mrs. Mary Bowrin to fill a vacant administrative assistant position. Included in Mrs. Bowrin's experience was the Director of Personnel for the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C. In that position she was a GM-14.
The next position which became vacant was that of my staff assistant. I first asked an experienced person, Mr. Tom Balderach of the Big Spring VA Medical Center, to consider transferring; however, he declined. I then asked Ms. Falcone to consider the position, which she eventually did. Her appointment was consistent with many other residents that were appointed during my tenure in San Antonio.
Ms. Falcone's progress from a GS-11 to GS-12 to GS-13 was consistent with past practice for employees in such positions. The journeyman grade for Health Systems Specialists at hospitals like Charleston was GM-13. Her performance was fully successful, and she should have been promoted.
I learned of my future reassignment from Charleston in early 1996 (February or March). I discussed this with Ms. Falcone. We concluded that we cared for each other to the point that we did not wish to be separated. She decided at that time to leave the VA as soon as was reasonable. I left Charleston in September 1996, and Ms. Falcone left Government service at the end of October 1996. We were married in December 1996.
In conclusion, there is NO evidence of mismanagement. This matter has been thoroughly investigated by the VA Inspector General and is well documented in their final report dated January 10, 1997. Everything I did at Charleston VA Medical Center was always for the benefit of our veterans and for the benefit of the Medical Center. I never have, and never will, do anything to hurt a veteran. I have done nothing illegal nor inappropriate.
I appreciate the opportunity you have given me to explain the facts in this matter and to address you today. Thank you.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - 810 Vermont Avenue, NW - Washington, DC 20420
Reviewed/Updated Date: November 10, 2009