Report: VA Incompetence Wastes Millions

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Casey Harper Contributor
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Even as hundreds of thousands of veterans wait weeks for a doctor’s appointment, the Veterans Health Administration is on track to mismanage hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years, according to a government oversight report.

The report estimates that the VHA will inappropriately spend $159 million annually or $795 million over the next five years by doing things like not seeking out the best price for contracts. This comes on the heels of a USA Today investigation that found that over 600,000 veterans are waiting more than a month for appointments at VA hospitals and clinics.

The VHA’s spending on support service contract functions quadrupled from 2002 to 2012 and contract costs have increased 60 percent since 2012, according to the report.

The Office of the Inspector General has identified similar problems since 2005.

“Previous OIG audits have identified recurring systemic deficiencies in virtually all phases of VA’s contracting processes relating to contract development, award, and monitoring,” the report states.

If the VHA allowed for cost assessments and competition, it could save 20 percent on average, according to the report.

Some of these problems occur because the VHA lacks a way to monitor the efficiency and quality for evaluating how well contracting officers do their job.

Apparently that oversight is desperately needed.

“VHA awarded 1,400 contracts without adequate source selections that could have saved $17.6 million, and it awarded 810 contracts using prohibited contracting practices totaling $122.7 million,” the report states.

On top of that, about $5 million was given in noncompetitive contracts without sufficient justification. Of the contracts that were competitive, more than 90 percent were missing documentation.

VHA could have saved $18.6 million through better invoice and fund management, and the OIG estimates that almost a quarter of all contracts, totaling $122.7 million, violated contracting criteria and regulations.

The VA will misspend hundreds of millions unless it immediately changes its behavior, according to he report.

“We recommended VHA improve their quality assurance and training programs, revise and complete Integrated Oversight Process reviews, objectively evaluate contracting officer’s performance, and ensure contracting officers’ representatives are delegated and met with quarterly,” the report states.

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