Consider your home finances, you and your significant other are working hard for the paycheck. Your significant other comes in and reports they have improperly paid the mortgage company, the electric company, the car loan, the gas company, and the credit cards over the last year to the tune of $100,000. These funds are not recoverable, did not reduce your balances, did not pay ahead, did not apply to your account, and your significant other expects to be praised for improperly paying the bills. What is your response?
The Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) released a report on how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) remains out of compliance with the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (2010) for fiscal year (FY) 2019. The report is replete with the obvious, the VA refuses to be fiscally responsible for American Taxpayer dollars. Consider the following from the VA-OIG report:
“In FY 2019, VA reported improper payment estimates totaling $11.99 billion for 14 programs and activities, $2.74 billion less than the total reported in FY 2018 for 12 programs and activities.”
The quote is supposed to be good news, and a major gain, and deserving of applause. Except, two programs were added between FY 2018 and 2019, thus reducing the overall performance. The VA-OIG report states something that should be obvious to every household in America, “Improper payments are any payments that should not have been made or were made in an incorrect amount.” Please keep in mind, the VA is not being tasked with eliminating improper payments, simply following the legislation, and reducing those payments. The VA has legislatively mandated targets they are “strongly suggested” to meet.
“VA did not meet annual reduction targets for a program considered at risk for improper payments and did not report a gross improper payment rate of less than 10 percent for six programs and activities as required. VA satisfied the other four IPERA requirements.”
The VA-OIG inspection for improper payments was not an audit, does not demand full and open books to be reviewed by third-party auditors for accountability of taxpayer dollars, reading the VA-OIG report is simply looks like the VA, including the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemeteries, self-report compliance estimates for meeting the targets.
Wrapped up in the VA-OIG report is the following gem of bureaucrat complicity.
“… Identified that four programs and activities have been noncompliant for five consecutive fiscal years, and two activities were noncompliant for three years.”
Thus, further reducing the overall adherence to Congressional oversight and fiscal sanity in properly handling the American Taxpayer money. The VA-OIG reported that the VA is required to submit to Congress plans to come into compliance, and it was considered good news that the VA was able to do this for two high-priority programs with a monetary annual loss of $100 Million; but overall, I have to rate the VA’s ability to self-identify and self-correct fiscal problems at a very low F-. The audacity of the VA Bureaucrats to not even follow all the VA-OIG recommendations, on such a softball legislative requirement mystifies. From FY 2018 to FY 2019, the VA refused to comply with a VA-OIG recommendation, and this same recommendation has been carried over into FY 2020 in the hopes that the VA will come into compliance.
Returning the original analogy, if your significant other was reporting these failures to comply, how long would that person remain a significant other? Yet, somehow, we, the American Taxpayer, accepts this type of poor performance from government bureaucrats. The legislation is not working to improve performance after 10 consecutive fiscal years of trying. Leading to the following recommendations for immediate Congressional action.
- Order a full, open, and transparent audit of the VA. I don’t care what is found in FY 2019, just perform a complete audit and bring all the books and budgets of the VA into a single source.
- Set mandates for compliance with hard deadlines to meet. Without accountability built into a system for improvement, you cannot expect improvement. Deadlines insist upon compliance.
- Start holding actual people accountable for not acting fiscally responsible. The charade has to end, the suggestions for improvement should never have started, and you, the elected Congressional Representatives, are responsible for correcting the fiscal ship of state!
- Insist upon adherence through personal liability. If a bureaucrat cannot handle the position they have been hired to hold, they need to be removed. Not coddled, not protected, not another paycheck!
Congress demands every business in America be held accountable to basic accounting practices; why then does the VA get a pass?
© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury
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