Report Summary

Title: Inadequate Governance of the VA Police Program at Medical Facilities
Report Number: 17-01007-01 Download
Issue Date: 12/13/2018
VA Office: Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
Office of Operations, Security & Preparedness
Report Author: Office of Audits and Evaluations
Report Type: Audit
Release Type: Unrestricted

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) audited the VA security and law enforcement program (police program) to determine whether there was an effective governance structure for reasonably assuring that the program’s objectives were being met. These objectives include the approximately 4,000 police officer workforce providing security for patients, visitors, and employees at Veterans Health Administration (VHA) medical facilities. The OIG also assessed whether VA police met requirements for staffing size and qualifications, and had an adequate inspection program to ensure compliance with policies and procedures.

The OIG found that VA did not have adequate governance over its police program to maintain effective management and oversight. The governance problems stemmed from confusion about police program roles and authority as well as the lack of a coordinated or centralized governance structure. According to VA policy, VHA leaders maintain primary responsibility for ensuring police program requirements are achieved. However, the Office of Security and Law Enforcement (OS&LE), a VA staff office that falls outside of VHA, has limited program oversight responsibilities such as developing and issuing national policies and inspecting police operations at VHA facilities. OS&LE does not have program authority to manage VA police operations at local medical facilities.

The OIG made recommendations for VA to (1) clarify program responsibilities between VHA and the Office of Operations, Security, and Preparedness (under which OS&LE operates) and evaluate the need for a centralized management entity; (2) ensure facility-appropriate police staffing models are implemented; (3) have facilities use available strategies to address police staffing challenges; (4) assess staffing levels for the OS&LE police inspection program and provide resources for timely inspections of police units; and (5) make certain that procedures are developed for conducting VA police investigations of medical facility leaders.