After a year of scandal at the Veterans Affairs Department, where officials were accused of keeping hidden wait lists and covering up poor treatment of veterans, it should come as no surprise that the agency is now among the most risky programs in the federal government.
Every year, the Government Accountability Office releases a list of the most troubled federal agencies, programs and projects at risk of being vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse. This year, the Veterans Affairs health systems made the not-so-coveted list, NextGov first reported.
The VA’s health systems have been in the spotlight since last year when CNN exposed hidden wait lists and cover-ups at a VA hospital in Phoenix. Since then, there’s been a steady stream of scathing reports from federal watchdogs revealing a spate of serious allegations of misconduct and wrongdoing at VA hospitals nationwide.
In June, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), an independent agency, released a report detailing numerous instances of abuse at VA hospitals across the country including suppressing whistleblowers’ complaints, alleged negligence of mental patients at agency facilities, and generally shoddy medical care and conditions among other things.
In one instance, the report said a VA mental health facility in Massachusetts severely neglected its patients and let them struggle for years without proper attention or treatment. One Massachusetts veteran with a serious condition had nothing written in his medical chart from 2005 to 2013, as The Fiscal Times previously reported. At the same facility, a different patient, who was admitted in 2003, didn’t receive his first comprehensive evaluation until 2011.
On top of the VA’s alleged negligence, the agency has other serious problems that have made them an obvious candidate to join the High Risk list.
A report released in June by the Government Accountability Office revealed that the Veterans Affairs leasing office had incurred significant cost overruns and major delays acquiring new medical centers needed to reduce the massive backlog at VA hospitals across the country.
The report said 39 of the 41 projects reviewed—with a contract value of about $2.5 billion—experienced schedule delays that ranged from six months to 13 years.
The GAO is poised to release this year’s complete Risk List on Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
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