A new report released by the VA Office of Inspector General Wednesday details a misappropriation of $43.1 million by Veterans Affairs officials.
The $43.1 million was originally appropriated to the VA Supply Fund in 2011 as part of the Medical Support and Compliance Fund. The Chief Business Office (CBO) than through a series of transactions “parked” the funds at the U.S Government Printing Office (GPO).
The OIG report states that, “‘Parking’ refers to the transfer of funds to a revolving fund through an intra-agency agreement in an attempt to keep the funds available for new work after the period of availability for the funds expires.”
The vast majority of the funds though, $35.2 million, remains unused in the GPO as of July 2014.
The original $43.1 million was appropriated to the VA Supply Fund by the CBO, was for the use of “tailored handbooks.” These handbooks were supposed to provide veterans with information about VA benefits, though they were never made. In fact, “The authorizations did not specify the quantity of handbooks to be produced or the dates for delivery.”
At the same time, “the tailored handbook account VA maintained at GPO appeared to be fully funded. There was a surplus of funds to cover the costs of the handbooks on veterans’ health care benefits. The handbook account in October 2011 had a balance of over $20.1 million. During the period from November 2011 through July 2014, the account had a net increase of approximately $6.7 million resulting in a balance of approximately $26.8 million.”
Of the $43.1 million, $5.6 million was billed to the Supply Fund as service fees. No services were rendered by the Supply Fund.
The remaining funds were,”were deposited in an unrelated account designated for enrollment communications at GPO.”
The CBO officials at the VA were able to use the funds “parked” at the GPO “at their discretion with no designated purpose.”
The other $2.3 million spent was not consistent with the intended need of it. “Over a 34-month period from October 2011 through July 2014, CBO only expended approximately $2.3 million of these funds in the enrollment communications account to purchase various materials such as pamphlets, business cards, and Affordable Care Act mailings,” the report said.
The OIG report does not state any specific consequences for the officials involved.
“We recommended VA confer with the Office of Human Resources and the VA Office of General Counsel to determine the appropriate administrative action to take, if any, against management for directing the misuse of approximately $43.1 million of FY 2011 appropriated funds.”