Report Summary

Title: Audit of Medical Support Assistant Workforce Management at the Phoenix VA Health Care System
Report Number: 16-00928-391 Download
Issue Date: 1/9/2018
City/State: Phoenix, AZ
Gilbert, AZ
Gilbert, AZ
Globe, AZ
Payson, AZ
Scottsdale, AZ
Show Low, AZ
Surprise, AZ
VA Office: Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
Report Author: Office of Audits and Evaluations
Report Type: Audit Report
Release Type: Unrestricted

U.S. Representative Kyrsten Sinema asked the OIG to evaluate the effectiveness of the Phoenix VA Health Care System’s (PVAHCS) management of its outpatient Medical Support Assistant (MSA) workforce. The OIG examined two allegations involving MSAs reported to the OIG but did not substantiate these allegations.

The PVAHCS needs to ensure its outpatient MSA operations align with clinical operations. PVAHCS’s Health Administration Service (HAS) couldn’t account for the number and clinical location of almost 60 percent of its MSAs. The Office of Personnel Management’s hiring model allows agencies 80 days to fill a vacancy and VA’s metric allows 60 days to fill a vacancy. The OIG was not able to assess whether the PVAHCS filled MSA vacancies in accordance with these metrics because its Human Resources office did not maintain adequate documentation. Despite the inadequate documentation, the OIG concluded that the PVAHCS generally did not meet these metrics. HAS failed to place newly hired MSAs on performance plans within the required 60 days of starting their jobs. The PVAHCS did not use available employee survey data to improve MSA retention. HAS lacked effective processes to evaluate applicants and place MSAs on performance plans in a timely manner. The PVAHCS also did not implement processes to ensure MSA survey data was used to improve MSA retention.

The OIG recommended the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 22 Director ensures the PVAHCS Director implements controls over its MSA resources, records accurate MSA hiring data, and uses incentives to hire human resources specialists. The OIG also recommended the PVAHCS Director implements practices to improve the timeliness of MSA selections, establishes controls to ensure MSAs receive timely performance plans, and evaluates the potential use of survey data. The VISN 22 Director concurred with these recommendations.