By Debbie Gregory.
At a hearing on Capitol Hill, a senior official at the Department of Veterans Affairs accused his agency of waste, fraud and mismanagement in the way it purchases medical care and supplies.
Jan Frye, the VA’s deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, wrote a 35-page memo to Secretary Robert McDonald in about the spending. He decided to air the information publicly after his memo went completely unanswered.
“I can state without reservation that VA has and continues to waste millions of dollars by paying excessive prices for goods and services due to breaches of Federal laws,” Frye wrote.
Frye said that for years, employees at the VA have failed to engage in required competitive bids, or sign contracts that would control costs for supplies in health care services. One of the most egregious methods designed to skirt federal rules is the use of purchase cards for large-scale purchases totaling billions. These purchase cards are normally intended to make it easier to acquire small items conveniently. Instead, employees used the cards to subvert contracting rules, bringing in $1.2 billion in prosthetics that were purchased without contracts during an 18-month period that ended last year. Frye said the VA has paid at least $5 billion in fees for specialized procedures, tests and surgeries, which violated federal rules.
Frye was appointed to his VA position on September 4, 2005. As the Deputy Assistant Secretary of one of the largest acquisition and logistics programs in the Federal government, Mr. Frye is responsible for the development and implementation of policies and procedures for department-wide acquisition and logistics programs supporting all VA facilities
McDonald finally issued a response, thanking Frye for bringing the allegations to his attention and promising the inspector general would examine his claims.
If any evidence of harm is found, the government watchdog will forward the information to the Department of Justice, and criminal charges may follow. But in getting the last dig in, McDonald planted responsibility for the scandal on Frye’s shoulders, saying, “It’s Jan’s responsibility to fix it.”
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Military Connection: VA Wasted $6 Billion: by Debbie Gregory