By Debbie Gregory.
The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has approved the nomination of Washington lawyer Michael Missal to be the new chief watchdog at the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Washington, D.C. attorney, who specializes in government enforcement and internal investigations, was nominated by President in October.
Missal would fill a key position at the VA that has been vacant since the previous inspector general at the VA stepped down in December 2013. The acting IG, Deputy Inspector General Richard Griffin, retired on July 4th.
The new Inspector General will be faced with investigating an agency with a history of widespread data manipulation, management relocation schemes used to skirt rules on pay raises and massive construction cost overruns.
He told lawmakers that his inspiration for working at the VA was his deceased father, who served in Europe with the Army 286th Engineer Combat Battalion during World War II.
Missal said he recognizes “the great frustration in VA not fully meeting its mission” and vowed to work with lawmakers in finding ways to fix those problems.
“This is a particularly critical time for VA as it attempts to rebuild the trust and confidence it has lost from our veterans, Congress, veterans service organizations and the American public,” said attorney Mike Missal, who previously worked as senior counsel on a number of federal and congressional investigations.
The chairman of the Senate veterans panel, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), says the top priority of the inspector general must be to “hold bad actors at the VA accountable” for chronic delays for veterans seeking medical care and other problems at the agency.