“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA Chapter 7

Oh, how I wish and long for, and am working for, the day when the VA is cleaned up, cleaned out, and corrected completely!  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) has been busy reporting more on the failures of the VA to act.  Yet, where is Congressional action in scrutinizing the executive branch’s actions?  Honest question, repeated only for emphasis; we elected you to do two jobs, write fair and equal legislation for all citizens, and scrutinize the executive branch; when are you going to do your jobs?

Let’s begin with some softball issues repeated from previous VA-OIG comprehensive healthcare inspections (CHIPs), specifically how employees report feeling morally distressed while working at the VA.  Moral distress is a leadership failure and is widespread enough to reflect the problem is not limited to a single VAMC/VAHCS.  From Virginia to California, Maine to Florida, and Montana to Arizona, too many VA facilities are poorly led, poorly administered, and poorly executed.  The VA is actively abusing the veterans for political gain; some have asked why I consider the VA is actively abusing veterans; let me see if additional disclosure can explain the problem.

VHA Directive 1004.08.  VHA defines an institutional disclosure as “a formal process by which VA medical facility leader(s), together with clinicians and others as appropriate, inform the patient or personal representative that an adverse event has occurred during the patient’s care that resulted in, or is reasonably expected to result in, death or serious injury, and provide specific information about the patient’s rights and recourse.”

The above quote is from the regulations governing VA care.  The VA-OIG quotes this directive, which has been published and is openly available, yet repeatedly the VA-OIG finds directors.  Hospital administrators who are informed and able to repeat this directive.  Who repeatedly refuse to follow this directive or train their staff to follow this directive.  When sentinel events occur (death, permanent injury, non-permanent injury, disability, etc.), the families report having no idea what to do because the disclosures were never provided to the veteran or designated caregiver.  Is this not abuse of the patient?  Is this abuse not driven by ideologues who gain from the harm they cause others?  Should this abuse not be scrutinized until it is eliminated?  Please feel free to read some of these comprehensive healthcare inspection reports from the VA-OIG, see the resulting injuries and problems caused by the failures of government medical providers, and then tell me whether these atrocious actions need more or less scrutiny and qualify for the title abuse.

North Carolinian veterans, VISN 6 is all yours, and would you be shocked to learn that even with newer leadership, moral distress remains a persistent problem in the VA employees throughout VISN 6, which just happens to include Durham, Asheville, Fayetteville, Hampton, Richmond, Salem, and Salisbury North Carolina?  Probably this is not unfamiliar as the patient experience survey scores remain persistently below VA averages, reflecting that new leadership is akin to putting lipstick on a pig.  Interestingly, medical staff credentialing remains a significant concern in North Carolina.

Western New York veterans, especially those receiving patient services in the Buffalo VAHCS, do you agree with the VA-OIG report?  The Buffalo VAHCS includes Buffalo, Batavia, Jamestown, Dunkirk, Niagra Falls, Lockport, West Seneca, and Olean, and the comprehensive report is mystifying to me.  For example, the VA-OIG reports that “Patients generally appeared satisfied with their care.”   At the same time, “Employee survey data revealed opportunities for leaders to improve workplace satisfaction and reduce feelings of moral distress.”  This is a combination not generally found in these CHIP inspection reports.  Something is definitely off, and I would love to know what, especially since the leadership needs significant improvement in identifying and reporting sentinel events.  Do you agree with the VA-OIG findings?  Please let me know your firsthand experiences, for the double-talk in this CHIP report is above what I usually observe.

With almost identical findings and recommendations in the Syracuse NY VAMC’s comprehensive healthcare inspection, covering communities of Syracuse, Auburn, Freeville, Potsdam, Rome, Binghampton, Watertown, and Oswego, NY., I am concerned that the veterans in New York are in as bad or worse shape than Phoenix’s veteran community.  Hence, I have to ask the VA-OIG, has something changed in your measurement and analysis tools to report such disparate findings as “Employee survey data revealed opportunities for leaders to improve servant leadership and decrease employees’ feelings of moral distress.  Patients generally appeared satisfied with the care provided?”  The double-talk level is higher in these CHIPs from NY, which is rarely observed outside of Phoenix and VISN 22.  Two final thoughts on the CHIPs, staff training, continues to be a high-risk finding, and this continues to be a leadership failure for every VAMC/VAHCS/VISN in the VA; why has progress not occurred?  Training is a system, and leadership and organizational risk, system redesign, and improvement is a quality, safety, and value problem of the highest importance; why is action never taken by leadership or the congressional representatives who are expected to scrutinize the executive branch?

28 March 2022, the VA-OIG released their long-awaited annual “Comprehensive Healthcare Inspection Summary Report: Evaluation of Medical Staff Privileging in Veterans Health Administration Facilities, Fiscal Year 2020.”  I have been interested to see what, if anything, the VA had accomplished in improving their medical staff privileging.  If I were a congressional representative, knowing that medical staff continues to harm and kill veterans, I would have been anxiously awaiting to see if the repeated hits from past years had finally been rectified.  Unfortunately, the VA continues to live down to expectations (digging the hole ever deeper), suffers from failed leadership, and the veterans continue to die or suffer abuse.

What did the VA-OIG discover?  Understand, “The OIG conducted detailed inspections at 36 VHA medical facilities to ensure leaders implemented medical staff privileging processes in compliance with requirements.  The OIG subsequently issued six recommendations for improvement to the Under Secretary for Health, in conjunction with Veterans Integrated Service Network directors and facility senior leaders.  The intent is for VHA leaders to use these recommendations to help guide improvements in operations and clinical care at the facility level.  The recommendations address findings that may eventually interfere with the delivery of quality health care.”  The OIG identified deficiencies with focused and ongoing professional practice evaluation, provider exit review, and state licensing board reporting processes.  Specifically:

    • use of minimum criteria for selected specialty licensed independent practitioners’ focused professional practice evaluations
    • inclusion of service-specific criteria in ongoing professional practice evaluations
    • completion of ongoing professional practice evaluations by other providers with similar training and privileges
    • recommendation by executive committees to continue licensed independent practitioners’ privileges based on professional practice evaluation results
    • completion of provider exit review forms within seven business days of licensed independent practitioners’ departure from a medical facility
    • the signing of exit review forms by service chiefs, chiefs of staff, and medical facility directors if licensed healthcare professionals failed to meet generally accepted standards of care
    • initiation of state licensing board reporting within seven business days of supervisors’ signatures on exit review forms to indicate licensed healthcare professionals failed to meet generally accepted standards of care.

The OIG found ongoing issues from the fiscal year 2019 CHIP summary report that warranted repeat recommendations for improvement.  The OIG issued three repeat recommendations related to the following:

    • inclusion of minimum specialty criteria for focused professional practice
      evaluations
    • inclusion of service-specific criteria in ongoing professional practice evaluations
    • recommendation by executive committees of the medical staff in continuing licensed independent practitioners’ privileges based on professional practice evaluation results.

Boiling the findings of the VA-OIG down, essentially, the administrators and leadership are not weeding out poor and horrible practitioners, reporting these underperforming practitioners, and not acting in the best interests of the veterans seeking care at VAMCs and VAHCSs across the country.  I repeat, only for emphasis: Is this not abuse of the patient?  Is this abuse not driven by ideologues who gain from the harm they cause others?  Should this abuse not be scrutinized until it is eliminated?  Please feel free to read some of these comprehensive healthcare inspection reports from the VA-OIG, see the resulting injuries and problems caused by the failures of government medical providers, and then tell me whether these atrocious actions need more or less scrutiny and qualify for the title abuse.  The link to the full report is available; please feel free to make your conclusions and post your thoughts in the comments section.

On a final note for today, consider with me the problems of the Atlanta VAHCS with pallets of unopened mail containing patient health information, community care provider claims needing payment, and a plethora of other unopened mail.  Understand that when community care providers cannot obtain compensation from the VA, they go to the veterans, who then send in correspondence, which is unopened, thus causing more problems, concerns, and issues for an already abused veteran community!  Want your head to explode?  Look at the pictures the VA-OIG helpfully sent along with this VA-OIG report, and ask yourself if any other business or organization could get away with this type of abuse of the customer.

What did the VA-OIG find?  Well, prepare for your head to explode, again:

    • VA Leadership should have established a formal agreement explicitly detailing each office’s responsibilities.
    • VA HCS leaders did not include responsible managers in decision-making discussions and lacked a clear understanding of the volume of mail processing work they were accepting.
    • Atlanta VA HCS did not ensure mailroom staff was adequately prepared or trained to handle or sort the influx of mail. POM (Payment Operations Management) officials were later reluctant to help, citing the verbal agreement.

Buried in the report is this tidbit, “POM is implementing similar transitions at sites across the country; POM and medical facilities need to ensure adequate staff with sufficient training to handle the mail processing workload.  VA concurred with the OIG’s five recommendations.”  Meaning that in a VAMC/VAHCS near you, unopened mail due to verbal agreements will soon add more distress and disgust to the veteran experience.

I have documented in these articles how verbal agreements, verbal standards of work performance, and verbal processes and procedures are the problem and way of life in too many CHIPs and observed practices at the VA.  Yet, these verbal shenanigans are more apparent than in the dilemma Atlanta faces due to unopened mail.  Payment operations to community care providers are on a controlled and fixed timeline.  Failure to process these payments according to the required timeline leaves providers unpaid, which diminishes the community care provider pool of providers.  Talk to a community care provider, and they will discuss the risks of doing business with the VA and the real possibility of not being paid timely enough or being caught in sufficient red tape never to receive payment.

I know of a provider who called me three years after receiving care and was still trying to appeal and correct the paperwork to receive payment.  A provider recently contacted me who wanted to ruin my credit for failing to pay the balance due from care received, and they are charging interest.  Correcting this problem cost me 48 business hours, 20 calls, and frustrations galore.  By the way, the problem still has not been rectified, an appeal is in process, and we have to wait for the VA to make a decision; this incident was caused by the VA changing the process and the paperwork.  The provider told me they are not accepting any more veterans seeking care, the risk is too significant, the timeline to receive payment is too long, and the VA never pays what is charged.  For example, I recently received a declaration declaring payment to a community care provider.  The VA sent me to this provider, which means they knew the prices beforehand and agreed to the fees.  The declaration declared the VA was charged $2,000 and paid $120, not actual amounts, but close enough to communicate the problem.  With inflation, or without inflation, if you were paid less than 1/10th of what you billed (invoiced), would you continue to conduct business with that company or organization?  Now add the unopened mail problem to the mix.  Would you continue to conduct business with this entity?

America, the Department of Veterans Affairs is sick.  All of the other alphabet agencies in the Federal Government are sick.  We continue to elect people who actively refuse to care enough to act according to their mandated duties.  We cannot afford the government we currently have, which is part and parcel of the problem with inflation in America right now!  Debt is entered into to pay for this bloated feckbeast called government; from the city to the federal government, the bloat is too great to be sustained!  Why is the VA able to skirt responsibility, accountability, and improvement?  They can hide behind the size of their convoluted and twisted organizational shield.  Why can the Post Office and the IRS get away with deplorable, at best, customer service?  They are protected by the congress refusing to scrutinize and hold people accountable.  When your head is done exploding, please remember and act in the ballot box to hire better representatives!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Year End (2021) – An After Action Report

Bobblehead DollBetween Christmas and New Year 2019, I accepted an offer to write more frequently for a group that, at the time, was calling itself “No More BS.”  What an amazing opportunity the challenge to write more regularly became, and how much I have come to enjoy writing.  Like all things in life, the challenge came with a cost; I had exhausted myself mentally, I was spent by October.  Physically my body could not answer the call of my mind, and my mind was screaming at me to stop.  Let’s talk about drivers and BS, for the importance to American society success is found in ending the BS.

Little Joey Biden and his Afghanistan Debacle are still unfolding, and I fully admit this turn of events from August 2021 has left me numb.  When America left Hanoi (April 1975) and Vietnam fell, many Americans, especially veterans, felt defeated in ways hard to describe.  Who knew that in such a short space of time (less than 50 years), America would repeat Hanoi (August 2021) by a couple of magnitudes?  Some very cynical veterans I know suspected the politicization of Afghanistan would lead to a repeat of history; but, I can honestly say I never expected Biden to act in such a disastrous and self-defeating manner.

Leaving Americans, allies, and stakeholders on the ground, holding the bag of responsibility, remains the quintessential yellow-spine craven move of the new century.  One of the greatest insults from my time in the US Military was the corporatization of the military officer corps.  Disconnecting responsibility and accountability, honoring weak-kneed drivel to the detriment of the professional NCOs and the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines has been utterly unacceptable.  Why; because every corporatized military in history has failed!  Now, America has Afghanistan and Vietnam, and the government leaders refuse to acknowledge they are the problem, and the sitting president rewards pubescent behavior.  Sickening!Angry Grizzly Bear

The military, to be effective, must be out of sync with the society they protect.  A sacrifice principle is required from those who love country more than themselves and voluntarily wear their country’s uniform.  Yet, the politics and political leaders refuse to allow the military to act at home and abroad, so we repeat history.  May I ask, how many more Vietnam’s and Afghanistan’s does America need to relive before accepting that personal sacrifice is quintessential to a strong military?  Mr. President, Little Joey, when does the BS end, and the motivation to lead return from bureaucratic hands to professional officers and NCOs?  For I warn you, what you have right now is a mob, and you desperately need a military!

But, Afghanistan, in all its depravity, is not the only outrage from this year where BS needs to end.  Consider something with me, the power of jury trials.  High-profile trials have been occurring and continue through this holiday season and end-of-year celebrations.  How incredibly grateful I am for the rule of Constitutional Law that provides for a jury by peers.  More often than not, juries get the law right and hand down fair verdicts.  Yet, the Corporate Media refuses to accept that jury trials are the best method for handling problems in a constitutional society.  I have seen the media meltdowns repeatedly when juries hand down verdicts the media have tried and failed to influence.

Now ask yourself, dear reader, why does the media try cases before all the facts have been presented?  Power, the answer remains ever simple, the media have become what they consider as THE single greatest power in American society.  The self-delusion is a steaming hot pile of BS dished up for public consumption 24/7/365, and the media refuses to eat the BS they are serving.  Considering themselves better than common citizens, above the law, the media companies have decided they can arbitrate, decide, and deserve to be listened to and obeyed.  Well, jury trials work, and it is time more journalists are introduced to the concept through defending themselves in a court of law.

QuestionWorse than the corporatization of the US Military has been the continual erosion of the rule of law.  The Uniform Code of Military Justice is regularly abused for the benefit of the powerful and the destruction of the weak.  When the law is cheapened, joked about, and castigated, the trust in civil society is broken, and the military is but a smaller example of what is occurring in American society as a whole.  When warriors are not judged by their deeds, but upon their political connections, the society hiring warriors, training warriors, and sending them into harm’s way will quickly find the warriors are gone.  Their replacements are not worth the honor and trust.  Leading to society being taken over and destroyed.

Feel free to disagree, but Rome remains the quintessential example in history of what happens when a republic fails to accept social consequences, infects its society from within, and then picks fights with neighbors.  Rome had the greatest military in recorded history, and it fell ingloriously all because the military, a microcosm of the society as a whole, decided politics was more important than the rule of law.  Popularity became more important than law and obedience to the rule of law.  Who taught Rome to fall; who brought the Roman Legions to their knees?  Look no further than their politically elected leaders who spent their time and the people’s money in riotous living, perversions, and trying to evade responsibility for their actions.  Tell me, are we not seeing the same exact abuses in current society that is witnessed on the pages of history with Rome falling?

What is the only difference between Rome’s fall and any other government with elected political leaders?  Advanced weaponry to include nuclear weapons.  What is the only safeguard in republican and democratic societies strong enough to save those societies from repeating Rome’s example; learning history and obeying the rule of law.  Of the two, learning history is more important, which is why learning history was the second casualty in the fight to overthrow the rule of law.  The first casualty was teaching students how to read.

The abuse of children remains an utter abomination, and rightly so.  But until the political leaders can be made to accept they are facilitating abusers of children masquerading as K-12 School Districts and teachers, the abuse of children, the wasting of precious resources, and the sacrifice of innocence will continue and worsen.  In Virginia’s gubernatorial election this past November, the central theme was public education.  Virginia, as your newly elected officials come into power, are you willing to watch those elected and demand they obey the electorate’s will and change education in your commonwealth?Lemmings 1

Over the holiday, I watched heart-wrenching videos of parents who almost lost their child to suicide because the teachers groomed the child into transgenderism, all without the parent’s knowledge.  Worse, the parents were abused by the government when the teachers involved called “Child Protection Services (CPS).”  Tell me, when bureaucrats join together for the abuse of those they are duly sworn and duty-bound to protect, who is at fault; the elected leaders!  What did the elected leaders do when the parents complained; they joined forces to continue abusing the child and the parents.  The exact opposite of what they were hired to do, scrutinize the government employees and protect the electorate from abusive government operations, practices, and people.

Unfortunately, some of you think this is only happening in California, Virginia, New York, or some distant city/county/state.  No, the truth of the matter is this is occurring in your child’s school district right now.  Your children, grandchildren, cousins, and neighbors are all being abused and harmed, and the rot is at your doors.  Don’t take my word for it; investigate for yourself.  Go to local school board meetings and ask to see the curriculum your child is being exposed to, and you will find the truth, and the truth will first abhor, then anger, and then motivate you.

I hope the motivation will be sufficient to inspire action to become more informed, pay closer attention to local political races, and stop allowing incumbents a free pass to officiate in the destruction of America.  One of the frequent conversations in my home is, “What are my plans after I complete the Ph.D. degree I am chasing?”  The temptation is real to run for political office, either mayor or school board, sheriff, or judge; I want to get into this fight to defend the America I love.  Most people think the battle for America’s soul is being fought in the US Senate or House of Representatives when the reality is the fight for America’s soul is being fought and lost in local elections, and it is time to find strong candidates who are willing to run for office and fight this fight locally.

Jesus, Minion Memes Aren't Funny : terriblefacebookmemesThe biggest lesson I have learned in writing this year, a degree doesn’t represent smarts or capability; those come by working in the trenches for something more important than self.  The US Navy taught me endurance in the face of insurmountable odds and enemy shenanigans, and the US Army taught me to think and have grit and determination.  I know I am not perfect; I am not the “picture perfect politician.”  I prefer blue jeans and button-downs to suits and ties, but I know people, and I prefer real people to the fake effrontery currently holding the reigns of political power.

Writing this past year, I have faced my demons, and while I still fight those demons, I know the need to engage is real, helping others promotes healing, and teaching provides the opportunity to learn more perfectly.  I know the power of citizens motivated to protect hearth and home, and I celebrate freedom.  I would see my neighbors armed with knowledge, possessing the motivation to speak out and act according to beliefs and win the American heritage left us.  I believe in America, and I know that when Americans are left alone, they use the power of freedom to change the world; all we need is to shrink the government, and America will begin to blossom again.LinkedIn Image

Shrinking the government begins locally.  The local government protects against county and state government abuses.  The state government protects against federal violations.  The federal government protects borders and provides for the common trade of goods across state lines.  Limiting government is not a bad idea at all; in fact, it is the only good idea that can help save America.  Join me!

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

New Jersey, New York, California, Oregon, and Washington – Just Sell Them for Parts!

cropped-laughing-owlWith a nod to Bill Engvall, let’s honestly discuss three complete holes in America where suicide by legislative fiat and executive stupidity has produced catastrophic failure.  Let me be perfectly honest, if either of these states were a business, they would have been forced into receivership, broken up, sold for parts, and their leaders jailed for incompetency and felonious charges of malfeasance long ago!  The charades have ended, the rose-tinted glasses are off, and frankly, the party is over, all the taxpayers are fleeing, and the businesses are closing shop and fleeing for healthier climates.

California this week passed another job-killing piece of legislation.  The bill is targeted at Amazon and is built on hogwash, acrimony, lies, and allegations so thin you could read Apple’s User Agreement through them.  Not the first time California’s legislative body has targeted a specific business for job-killing legislation, not the first time the legislation is built on sand, and the forecast is for torrential rain, not the last time this idiocy is going to happen.  The fact that California keeps killing itself is depressing!Bird of Prey

New Jersey and California hold an interesting title, and 32 other states are 100% insolvent in their Unemployment Compensation Trust Funds.  Business owners, this fact alone should scare the living daylights out of you and every one of your workers right now!  Now, some of you get it; some are scratching your heads and going; why is this important.  For those who got it, feel free to skip the following explanation.

The unemployment trust fund is akin to the social security trust fund managed by, raided, and depleted by the Federal Government.  No money means that the debts in those trust funds cannot be paid, and all the funds being collected right now are not being used for future calamities.  For all you economists out there, yes, this is a very simplified explanation.  Insurance trust funds are expected to be the funds of last resort to ensure payments to investors; those paying premiums for coverage can receive protection.  Not having these trust funds means the state unemployment insurance fund is in deep trouble, and there is only one direction to point the blame, the legislators and executives in government.

Bobblehead DollNow, some are claiming these funds were only depleted due to the COVID pandemic.  Do not believe the hype.  These funds were in trouble long before COVID hit, and the fact that there are funds to replenish these trust funds and government leaders are refusing to invest money in the trust funds should be major red flags for everyone in the state!  State and local governments are spending money like it’s Christmas, and the New Year will never come with the bills from the holidays.  Think drunken-sailor on 7-day liberty here if you prefer that analogy.  Either way, financial troubles are brewing above and beyond the current inflation woes, and the media is deftly NOT reporting this crisis.  Does anyone want to venture why this topic is not being discussed?

The Article from the Tax Foundation lays out the data nicely, and you are left to draw your own conclusions from the data.  But tell me, what happens when you call GEICO, Farmers, All-State, etc., with a claim and the claim is denied because the insurance company has no money?  Now multiply that by every wage-earner and business in your state and tell me if maybe, just maybe, the unemployment insurance trust fund being insolvent should be a more significant issue of discussion.Tax Burden

If your state is insolvent, and your next paycheck is a LOT lighter, remember this tidbit about unemployment tax insurance trust funds.

Unemployment insurance tax rates on businesses rise automatically when trust fund balances are low.”

Do you see the trouble now?  First, the government maliciously raids and spends the funds, then a hidden tax kicks in, depleting your paycheck, and the government does not have to tell you why your paycheck is lighter.  Especially since those in legislative bodies traditionally exempt themselves from having to pay these taxes.  Now add in the other hidden taxes; inflation goes up because when taxes climb, inflation climbs, prices go up to cover the hidden taxes of higher costs to operating a business, and wages stagnate, which crimps your budget even further.Government Largess

The states mentioned are not the states that did not need Federal Intervention, and they are not counted among the states spending money wisely, as discussed by Governing.com.  Please tell me that nobody is surprised by this revelation.  I find it alarming that Governing.com, in their analysis, was able to conclude the following:

Despite predictions that COVID-19 would crush state tax revenues, most of them didn’t need mega-billions in pandemic aid to balance their budgets. But for the most part, they seem to be spending the money wisely.”

Leading me to ask, why did the Federal Government invest our tax dollars, venture into such incredible debts, and shut down a booming economy?  COVID has proven NOT to be worthy of the title “Pandemic.”  Yet, COVID remains an excuse for emergency measures, emergency spending, and emergency police actions.  Will any media representative ask a politician why?  I didn’t like the book, but I read Albert Camus’ book “The Plague” for light reading.  That is a book about a public health crisis, a pandemic worthy of the title pandemic, and several times in world history, the title pandemic has been warranted when survivors are burning corpses in the street.  COVID fits none of the definitions or situations for a Pandemic, except for the politically connected to laugh at the politically abused populations.Angry Wet Chicken

Look at Washington, New York, New Jersey, California, and Oregon across the COVID-19 political mania.  Tell me why COVID is not an exercise in malicious government and politics gone horribly wrong.  Sure, we can add New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan, and a couple of other states into the mix for fun.  These core states are where politicians made vast sums of money on COVID-Hysteria, and I would like to keep the focus small for the current article.

The House Ways and Means Subcommittee is reporting 32 states are intentionally withholding money from rural governments as a political move.  When you take the top 20 receivers of COVID-Relief money and the 32 states withholding COVID-Relief money, you find some lines of congruence with states with the harshest COVID restrictions, ridiculous COVID mandates, and no correlating data to infection risk avoidance.  Now, why isn’t COVID reported as a political and social experiment gone horribly wrong?  Worse, why was the money borrowed by the Federal Government at extortionate rates and given pell-mell to the states when the majority of those states do not need the money and the states that did need the money have sufficient if their politicians reigned in spending?Angry Grizzly Bear

The five states mentioned are not poor states by any stretch.  They have resources, both human and natural; they have riches galore, they have potential, they used to have favorable business climates, they are committing suicide.  Why should the rest of America bail them out?  Why not break them up into parts, sell assets to cover debts, place them into receivership, and force them on a diet of sanity and logic until the bills are paid?

I close with a word of warning.  Texas, you’re headed to California status faster than you would like to admit!  Your COVID restrictions are particularly heinous and represent the infection found in Austin spreading like fast-moving cancer to steal your state and liberty.  Arizona, Idaho, Wisconsin, Iowa, you are all on a similar track, the speed might not be as noticeable right now, but the infection is there and growing.  Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, both Dakotas, you are all at various places in being terminally sick with the same cancer.  If soft words and political expediency can conquer the Western US, the entire United States is lost.  New Mexico has been lost since it was given statehood in a political move that robbed Arizona and Texas of land!

Image - Eagle & FlagThe time to awake and arise is now!  The fight for liberty and freedom will be fought and won or lost in the American West.  Sure, the coasts of America are well and truly infected.  But, the fight for independence is not on the shores; it is right outside your doors.  The media and politicians like to hyperventilate about the coasts, but the rural communities in the “Fly-Over” states are more important to liberty and freedom surviving than any other local in America.  Awake and Arise!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

What We Are Witnessing – What We Can Do!

Angry Grizzly BearThe US Senate passed the non-infrastructure bill, loaded with everything but infrastructure initiatives and a bloated price tag that is not paid for, which will increase inflation and the National Deficit.  The US Senate is on its way to passing a $3.5 Trillion spending spree, again no accountability, no restraints, not paid for, balloons the government, and robs freedoms and liberties from every American.  Did you know all legislation that spends money is supposed to originate in the US House of Representatives?

Long ago, a couple of legislators crammed down some rules that allowed for spending bills to originate in the US Senate, as long as the US House of Representatives got the legislation, eventually, and voted for that legislation.  Generally under immense pressure from the upper house and the special interest groups lobbying for the lower house to “just go along.”  All of which is legal but unconstitutional, but allowed as legislative chicanery called “doing business in Washington.”

Tired of Politikal-Gimmickry yet?  I am!

My wife brought up an interesting question regarding the now resigned Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, “Will he be prosecuted?”  I do not know, and from the headlines, I cannot tell.  Worse, it is not apparent if a deal was struck to compensate the victims from the New York taxpayers and avoid accountability if Gov. Cuomo left before electioneering could begin to hinder Democratic efforts to keep the office in New York.  Tell me, how can private industry have significant penalties for even a suspicion of sexual impropriety, but government elected officials can weasel out of accountability time after time if you are in the appropriate political party?Angry Wet Chicken

Speaking of Ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo, his anti-apology/resignation speech was the worst kind of political skullduggery since Anthony Weiner was disgraced for sexual impropriety.  If Chicago is the land of pay-for-play politics, then New York must be for sexual impropriety politicians, beginning with William Jefferson and Hillary Clinton!

Tired of Politikal-Gimmickry yet?  I am!

Can someone tell me how and why YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other Social Media companies, private companies, can block content and customers?  First, the companies take money to be news outlets and media giants, obtaining tax breaks and special benefits for being tech giants and other prime companies for the government.  Then, they squawk they have the right to silence content, isolate content providers, shame politicians, and spout political beliefs like private companies while receiving public funds.  The IRS came down hard on churches in the 2020 election cycle for having 501 C status and being mouthpieces for political speech; how is this not the same principle with social media companies?  Why aren’t social media companies forced to either maintain neutrality or stop receiving preferential treatment from the government?

Tired of Legal and Politikal-Gimmickry yet?  I am!

Exclamation MarkLet’s talk about scientific facts for a moment, and if you like, feel free to look up the corresponding research.  I am not a medical professional, epidemiologist, virologist, or chemist; however, I can read a research paper, and this is what I have found.  One of the reasons it is so difficult to vaccinate against viral infections is the ever-changing viral infection itself.  Essentially, the virus mutates a lot, and these generational mutations tend to keep a vaccine from working effectively against a virus for very long.  The only sure-fire way to protect a population against a viral infection is to allow the people to experience the viral infection and build herd immunity.

The Delta-Variant of the Sars-COV-2 (COVID-19) viral infection is essentially a fizzle.  Vaccinated people are catching this mutation, spreading it, and then complaining, “But I got vaccinated.”  However, the fizzle is that the virus has mutated into a half-life in a previous mutation, and the Delta-Variant is a half-life again of the previous half-life.  This is why the Delta-Variant will make you sick but not keep you sick, and the antibodies your body builds against Sars-COV-2 are actually beneficial in the long run.  Having said all this, do you think the media will report this information; do not bet the farm, Lucy!  Will, the government, relinquish control; hold your horses, Mack!  Totalitarianism has broken out, and reigning in these out-of-control bureaucrats and power-hungry politicians will take a lot more than the half-life deaths of Sars-COV-2.Anton Ego

I am a person of action; I do not take kindly to being told to sit down and wait or shut up and stand still!  Never have been; in fact, learning patience has been one of my biggest challenges and hardest lessons, and I still fail gloriously DAILY!  Worse, I see the danger and the emergency, and I desperately feel the need to take action immediately!  It makes me good in the trenches but not very good in the stadium.  Here are my thoughts on taking action now; agree or disagree, take action NOW!  We can talk about the problems later!

      1. Start right now, calling the US House of Representatives and DEMANDING in the strongest language possible that your elected representatives refuse the boondoggles being passed in the US Senate right now!
      2. New Yorkers, you are some of the toughest people in the world; show it! Put your backs up, put your mouths in gear, and DEMAND that Governor Cuomo be held accountable, in a court of law, for the crimes for which he is accused.  Guilty or not, these accusations need to be settled in a courtroom.  Not a pressbox, not a media-feeding frenzy, but by a jury trial!  Force the truth!
      3. America, lead the world in throwing off the totalitarianism that is killing representative government across the globe! From the mayors to the governors to the US President, it is time to end the farrago called COVID and throw the bums OUT!  Yes, this includes the MEDIA!  The politicians’ lapdog needs to be held accountable for spreading half-truths, lies, and falsehoods for personal power, and rightly so.  When discussing the media’s role in spreading and fanning the flames of COVID, we include social media and hold these tech companies responsible for their roles.  Nobody is “Too Big To Fail!”
      4. If the elected officials, including judges, refuse to listen to you, begin the recall procedures! Refuse your consent to be governed!  You own the power of and the keys to the government, and it is past time for the government to begin fearing us, the electorate!The Duty of Americans

As the politicians take the rest of August off, lets us remind them who is in charge.  Turn off your TV.  Turn off your Cable.  Turn off your social media.  Call, text, email, and visit their town halls, demand an audience with the elected officials.  Get heard!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

COVID-19 – Authoritarians, Storm Troopers, Liars, and Thieves

Angry Grizzly BearSince February 2020, the world has seen COVID-Authotirarians, Storm Troopers, Liars, and Thieves rise.  I think it is time to start naming names and being specific that we will no longer accept this detestable behavior from government, media, community, bureaucrats, and those who have constantly been aching for a chance to exert authority over someone else!  Too often, I have witnessed these ignorant savages trying to overcome common sense and legal boundaries in the name of a survivable viral disease because the atmosphere has allowed the rise of stupidity masquerading as “Health Policy!”

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Monday, 26 June 2021, the US Mail delivered to me a letter from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), Secretary Denis McDonough, and cosigned by Acting Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Richard A. Stone MD.  Two people who were selected by the fraudulent president Biden for their political adroitness and not for their brains, experience, intellect, or even manners, and the letter received is proof!  Imagine sending a letter to all US Veterans using an attitude of childishness and the faux superiority of the intellectual elite to compare getting the COVID-19 vaccine to serving in the US Military, “AGAIN!”

Angry Wet ChickenWhat was the desired intent of this despicable piece of self-righteous trash?  I have had three calls to date from two different VISN’s and VAMC’s requesting me to get vaccinated, neigh demanding me to get vaccinated.  Yet, the VA cannot even answer simple questions about my concerns for the vaccination, including future sterility, why vaccinated people are only catching the DELTA variant, how the vaccine interacts with medications already being taken, the neurological issues and heart issues from receiving the vaccine, and the list goes on and on!  But the VA wants to send me a letter talking down to me and my intelligence trying to promote the vaccine and claiming this is like serving in the US Military again!

Quoting Colonel Potter, M*A*S*H 4077, “Bull Feathers!”

Governors who do not understand the Separation of Powers or the Rule of Law!

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, governor of New Mexico, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Governor of Michigan, Governor Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Governor Phil Murphy, governors of New York and New Jersey respectably, and too many more who act like tyrants, think like spoiled children and run their state’s like the Federal Government is their personal piggy bank and all the citizens are private property.  We, the citizens, are sick to death of being held captive to your ignominious and deleterious policies, stupidity, and damnable insanity!  You have disgraced your offices, demeaned the rule of law, and distanced yourselves from any political redemption.Apathy

I look forward to the day when you are held legally culpable, accountable, and individually responsible before the bar of justice for your behaviors, actions, double-dealings, and waste of taxpayer funds!  You named, and those unnamed who are cohorts in crime, have been the cause of unemployment, businesses shuttering, economic disaster, all for personal gain and individual ego, and your reigns of terror are, hopefully, soon to end in Federal Court and an Orange Jumpsuit!  You have betrayed the honest citizens in your states, and when they awake and arise, blessed change will follow, for there is nothing more dangerous than an honest man betrayed!

US Senators, US House of Representatives, and Every Legislator Elected in the United States

cropped-bird-of-prey.jpgEvery one of you should be ashamed!  Each one who has sat by and watched your governor or president be the flaccid media mouthpiece of cheap science, faux interest in public health, and have voted to create inflation, destroy businesses, livelihoods, and communities, while cheering the destruction of law and order, you also need to be held accountable for your culpability in this most disgusting and distressing event, COVID-19!  I absolutely require your retirement packages, repayment of all funds, and a dishonorable discharge from public service for every one of you!   Why have so few of you even asked the simple questions regarding COVID; for example:

      • Why is COVID different from every other viral disease in the world?
      • Why do we need to “fast track” a vaccine using untrusted, untried, and unknown technology?
      • Why is a Chinese Viral disease able to shut down economies, close businesses, close churches, and close everything but big box stores?
      • What is different about COVID, a viral disease less dangerous than any other viral disease shipped from China with a higher survivability rate, able to throw the entire world on its ear?
      • How did Fauci go from approving Hydroxychloroquine in research to being against Hydroxychloroquine for the same COVID viruses he wrote peer-reviewed research papers?
      • Why was common-sense medicine thrown away for personal suffering at home until those susceptible to COVID were dying?

You were elected to represent the best interests of ALL your electorate, not the special interests, Big-Tech, Big-Pharma, Big-Box retailers, but the common citizens, and you refused to perform your primary function!  Legislators have only two jobs, write common-sense laws that support the best for all citizens, honoring the US and State Constitutions, and scrutinizing the legislative branch!  That is your entire job, and too many of you have failed to even show up for work.

Yes; you who have sat around and done nothing to protect citizens from run-away government are guilty, culpable, responsible, and need to be held accountable in front of a judge for your lack of job performance!  Justice demands you to be held responsible.  You will be held liable and accountable.  I long to see you in distinctive clothing, carrying sandwich boards advertising your crimes, picking up trash, pulling weeds, feeding the hungry, and doing other public services until all the funds you have squandered, and the pain you have inflicted has been paid off!Plato 2

Neighbors and Bureaucrats

America has always come together in difficult times, relying upon our neighbors and communities for strength and support.  But those who have used COVID as a means to exercise dominion, creating rules and policies at a whim, demanding obeisance, and using fear of a public health emergency instead of logic and calm-headed reasoning should be utterly ashamed of yourselves!  I have watched neighbors, friends, families torn apart by COVID Storm Troopers who have used faux science, media talking heads, and the most abysmal behavior exercising control, and this behavior must cease immediately!  When government fails, bureaucrats lose their voice.  Well, the government has failed, the bureaucrats have lost, and it is time for a reckoning with the citizens who have been cheated, defrauded, and penalized!quote-mans-inhumanity-2

Neighbors and Citizens

Do you realize that you have had money stolen from your pockets through inflation, taxes, and a run-away government?  Do you understand that through media talking heads, faux science, and out-of-control legislative branches of government, your liberties, rights, and freedoms have been stolen and replaced with socialized government?  In fact, the socialization of the government began before COVID, and this was done to directly penalize you for crimes you have never committed and enlarge the pockets of career politicians!  Are you aware of how close the US Constitution has come to being irrelevant, overtaken by a socialized/communist government?  How concerned are you that your heritage, your legacy, and your family are about to be wiped out through government actions taken in capitals and applied on main streets, and the bureaucrats are laughing all the way to the bank!

VaccineCOVID is the virus with the highest survivability of ALL the Chinese viral diseases unleashed since the early 1990s; yet, COVID is the only virus to impact the world, as we have witnessed since Jan//Feb 2020.  Why is that?  Why is COVID powerful enough to change governments to demand green/health passports to enjoy food and drink in an outdoor café?  Businesses owners, why was COVID allowed to close your businesses?  None of the other Chinese Viral diseases were allowed to close you down; why was COVID allowed?  The Ebola outbreak in the last years of Pres. Obama was insufficient to close schools, businesses or demand health checks, and health passports; why was COVID given this honor?

What is Politics?

Knowledge Check!Politics is too often a word with so much baggage; people become confused and stop listening after hearing the word politics.  According to Webster:

As a Noun, “the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.”

  • The activities of governments concerning the political relations between countries.”
  • The academic study of government and the state.”
  • Activities within an organization that is aimed at improving someone’s status or position and are typically considered to be devious or divisive.”
  • A particular set of political beliefs or principles.”
  • The assumptions or principles relating to or inherent in a sphere, theory, or thing, especially when concerned with power and status in a society.”

As a Verb, politic/s is derogatory and is defined as “engaging in political activities.”

From Old French Politique “political,” Latin from Greek Politikos, and Politẽs “citizen” and Polis “city.”  Thus, we have described the term politics in all its glory and inhumanity.  Is the term more understood?  Politics is a descriptive tool used to identify certain human activities where power is sought, and devious means and divisive gestures are employed to obtain that power.  Every action tied to securing power through devious means and divisive gestures is politics or political, meaning derogatory.  For those needing more, derogatory is “showing a critical or disrespectful attitude.”quote-mans-inhumanity

COVID has only EVER been about POLITICS!  Meaning that those exercising political leadership positions have a derogatory view of you; the common citizen, those of us who elected them to power.  The politicians are in the “political game” to demean, abuse, and destroy you.  Mad yet?  Feeling betrayed?  We, the citizens, need to restrict our consent to be governed, recalling all the politicians and demanding they be held accountable for creating the mess America is in!  I am not talking about being violent, I do not condone any violence, but I demand the Rule of Law be applied to those who have abused the law, usurped power, and exercised dominion!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Discretionary Funds – The Taxpayers Bain

Wasting TimeNew Mexico’s current Governor, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), is being audited by the New Mexico State Senate for questions in how she uses the discretionary funds that come as a perk to her office.  While Gov. Grisham is not the first to abuse discretionary funds, nor will she be the last, abuse of discretionary funds in New Mexico is not the topic of this article.  Although, if I were a New Mexican Senator, I would hound the living life out of why the Governor thinks she can use those funds for her dry cleaning and then complain that from a budget of $7 Billion, “context is important.”

Scared Eyes!Context is not the issue in the use of discretionary funds, paid through forced taxation and other government means, to rob the citizen and businesses of their money.  Context, according to Webster is, “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.”  Let us use Gov. Grisham’s spokesman Tripp Stelnicki’s own words for expounding upon the problem.  Please remember, Gov. Grisham is only being used as an example as she is currently in the news for dipping her hands into discretionary funds.  Many politicians need their discretionary funds scrutinized, audited, and accounted for by the politician to the public for wasting the public’s money.

Discretionary funds are an amount of money available to spend on things that are not considered necessary but may be useful.  How these funds are spent, how the funds are accounted, regulated, and controlled will vary from state to state, county to county, and city to city across America.  How discretionary funds are controlled and regulated across all democratically elected societies worldwide is extremely varied and complex.  The sole standard of discretionary funds is that they are a set amount of money budgeted, and the spending is considered “necessary” or “useful.”  Just do not forget, these funds come from the taxpaying public and should be publicly discussed, and accountability is required!

blue-money-burning-2New Mexico Governor (D) Bill Richardson’s annual spending of discretionary funds climbed to $139,000 in 2008 while playing host to Hollywood types foreign dignitaries and community groups the Governor wanted to woo.  The ethical lapses of discretionary spending were but one reason why Governor Susana Martinez (R) was elected as the people hoped for a change and better accountability for their tax dollars.  Sadly, Gov. Martinez was not the fiscal hawk needed. New Mexico State continues to struggle because of the politicians’ ethical and moral positions in the house, senate, and Governor’s mansion.  Not to mention the fiscal illiteracy found in the same politicians.

What are the dangers of discretionary funds?

Fraud appears to be the most obvious danger in discretionary funds.  A non-profit group in Flatbush helped rip off the discretionary funds’ scab and the scams that funnel millions of taxpayer dollars into politicians’ hands in a cycle of abuse of both non-profit organization’s discretionary funds.  Apparently, “a lack of control and oversight of the millions of dollars New York City appropriates annually to non-profit groups through council member earmarks, often referred to as pork-barrel spending.”

Government LargessPublic corruption also rears its ugly head where discretionary funds and people with hands out conduct business.  “Former City Representative Desiree Peterkin Bell, who ordered the $3 million deal in 2014, is charged by state prosecutors with theft and misuse of public money stemming from her oversight of the Mayor’s Fund, a non-profit used to promote Philadelphia and advance the mayor’s policy goals.  A state grand jury charged Bell in October 2019 with six felony counts related to public corruption for alleged theft and misuse of Mayor’s Fund dollars. Bell has denied all charges.”  Never forget, the politician controlling discretionary funds decides what is “useful” but not necessarily “needful” when spending discretionary funds.

Phantom Funding also appears as a hole through which discretionary funds come and discretionary funds go.  Consider New York City and the report from 2008 where “… the City Council had allocated funds to non-existent organizations, Council Speaker Christine Quinn declared that the council has “reformed” its decades-long practice of hoarding extra funding for pet projects.”  For New York City, the scandal for discretionary funds and phantom funds went as high as $20 Million annually.  Leading to a question for NM Gov. Grisham’s spokesman Tripp Stelnicki, “whose context should we keep in mind when discretionary funds are abused the politicians or the taxpayers stuck footing the bill?”

Pentagon BureaucracyWant some interesting insights on discretionary fund abuse; Courtney Gross raised some excellent points and identifies how the process works, just in New York City.  However, I have no doubt the same pattern is followed in abusing discretionary funds across America, maybe not in the exact dollar amounts, but definitely, a pattern followed.  Worse, Courtney Gross asked the questions all politicians who have discretionary funds available need to answer.

Discretionary funds are dangerous, as the Pope has discovered in 2020, where Mr. Tirabassi and Monsignor Perlasca, among a host of others known only by initials, set up schemes to raid the Vatican coffers of at least €454 Million in financial assets.  The investigation is ongoing in Italy and has taken a dramatic toll on the Catholic Church’s finances and reputation.  The scheme included blackmail, bribery, and a host of other financial crimes.  While those accused remain innocent until proven guilty, the fact that the Holy See is not impervious to discretionary fund abuse is a warning to everyone that discretionary funds are dangerous!

Detective 4A simple search of discretionary fund abuses brings up discretionary trading and a host of articles citing and supporting the claims that anything with the term discretionary in the title is an opportunity ripe for abuse by nefarious actors who want their cut.  Hence the problem, too many accounts in public funds include discretionary in their titles.  Like the famed hydra of old, if discretionary funds are removed, a new head will appear to abuse and steal the public’s money to the benefit of a few politicians, non-profit groups, and in the case in Rome, “consulting fees.”  The following suggestions support a “Liberty FIRST Culture:”

      1. All discretionary funds are ended forthwith, and if an account is needed, all receipts are open for public discussion, and details are paramount. Those spending the money need to provide the public the reason for the funds being spent.
      2. No unfunded liabilities are allowed, ever!
      3. Make it public with quarterly audits done by more than a single auditor and double-checked using a third and independent auditing system.  Fail an audit once, and the politicians are immediately removed, and a criminal investigation opens into financial crimes.
      4. Reduce the size of government! I cannot stress this point enough; size breeds problems, and theft is committed in the chaos!
      5. Personal accountability for how and why public funds are spent is missing in how politicians are currently conducting business. Begin to build into local and state laws methods and means for holding those abusing their position with the public’s money ways to hold them personally accountable legally.  Hence, if a politician misspends money, they are personally responsible for repaying those funds.  Suppose the Commanding Officer of a ship can be held accountable for marine life death due to shipboard operations. In that case, every single politician can be held responsible for the whales of public spending malfeasance they originate.

Leadership CartoonRemember, these suggestions are only a beginning to the solution, not the end resolution.  In conducting audits, previous politicians will be discovered for the schemes they perpetrated, and they will need to be held accountable.  Some schemes have lived for so long; the scheme is now an organizational design problem, costing money and other resources requiring locally adaptable solutions to correct.  Regardless, cleaning up the government’s size and the funds spent will be a significant undertaking requiring the best innovative minds.  Pitch IN!  We need all hands on deck to fix these problems and pay off the fiscal malfeasance!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Structured Incompetence – The Department of Veterans Affairs and Congress

I-CareThe Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is allowed the ability to govern themselves, provided they meet specific guidelines and legislated goals and directions.  The Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) was established to provide legislators and the VA with tools and processes to improve, as well as to investigate root causes, and make recommendations for improvement.  But, here is the rub, the VA-OIG has no teeth to help their recommendations hold the attention of those in charge to make changes.

In December 2014, the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), passed Congress and was signed into law by the president; FITARA is a historic law that represents the first major overhaul of Federal information technology (IT) in almost 20 years. Since FITARA’s enactment, OMB published guidance to agencies to ensure that this law is applied consistently governmentwide in a way that is both workable and effective.  2014 saw the VA slow the loss of private data from the VA, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Data Breach is gaining momentum and will crest in 2015, and in case memory has failed 2014 saw an explosion in VA malfeasance get uncovered starting with the Carl T. Hayden VA Hospital in Phoenix, AZ.

December 2020 will mark the sixth anniversary of FITARA, and President Trump signed a five-year FITARA bill in May 2018.  The VA-OIG in reporting progress on FITARA at the VA has this to report,

“… The audit team evaluated two groups of requirements involving the role of the VA chief information officer during [the] fiscal year 2018. They related to the CIO (1) reviewing and approving all information technology (IT) asset and service acquisitions across the VA enterprise and (2) planning, programming, budgeting, and executing the functions for IT, including governance, oversight, and reporting. The audit team found that [the] VA did not meet FITARA requirements and identified several causes.”

The number one reason for non-compliance after almost six-years was, “VA policies and processes that limited the chief information officer’s (sic) review of IT investments and the oversight of IT resources.”  Not mentioned in the VA-OIG report is how many of these processes and policies had been enacted since 2014.  The VA’s own processes and policies reflect structured incompetence, making a ready excuse to be out of legal compliance with legislated obligations.  If this was a private business, and the legislated obligations were not being followed exactly, no excuse could keep the leadership team out of jail and the business in operation.  Hence, Congress why do you allow this egregious behavior by public servants?

On the topic of structured incompetence, foot-dragging, and legislated obedience, the VA-OIG issued a glowing report of compliance because the VA was found to be in compliance with three of the five recommendations from a VA-OIG inspection on the Mission Act from June 2019.  The progress made was on all aspects of the Mission Act except mandatory disclosure.  Why does this not surprise me; of course, the VA has had, and continues to suffer from, a horrible case of refusing to report, disclose, and communicate without severe prodding and legislated mandates.  Thus, I congratulate the VA on being in compliance with the Mission Act for the last three consecutive quarters on a total of three recommendations from the VA-OIG; this is a good beginning, when can we expect improvement on mandatory disclosure?  Structured incompetence relies upon disclosure malfeasance, collective misfeasance, and leadership shenanigans.

On the topic of structured incompetence, the VA-OIG reported that the Northport VA Medical Center in Northport, New York, prior medical center leaders did not plan effectively to address deficiencies in aging infrastructure.  Which is the polite way of saying, the buildings are old and maintenance has been creatively haphazard, so when steam erupts from fittings and contaminates patient treatment rooms with asbestos, lead paint, live steam, and other construction debris, a small problem becomes a multi-month catastrophe.  Thankfully, the VA-OIG reported no harm to the patients or patient care restrictions from this episode.  Unfortunately, the VA-OIG cannot hold the managers and directors of engineering services responsible.  Having worked in several capacities in engineering I am astounded at the following recommendation from the VA-OIG, and covered under creatively structured incompetence:

“… The OIG recommended that the medical center director develop processes and procedures for submitting work orders—including for notifications when work orders are assigned and reviewed for accuracy and consistency—to help the center’s engineering service prioritize work and manage [the] resource.”

Will the VA-OIG please answer the following questions, “Why is this the hospital directors’ job?”  You have an entire engineering plant, with a supposedly competent director to oversee engineering operations, why and how should the hospital director be focusing such extensive amounts of time on the job that rightly belongs to the engineering plant director?  There are several technology-based programs and options that can perform this work, and form reports automatically based upon performance by engineering staff in completing work orders.  Why is the VA-OIG recommendation not including an automated process to improve performance?  The lack of oversight in the engineering department is both creatively and structured incompetence, because the VA-OIG report recommended following the master plan, reporting progress to the master plan, and suggested that the director of the engineering plant needs to be doing the job they are collecting a wage to perform.

Behavior-ChangeOn the topic of creatively structured incompetence, we find the following from the Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).  A veteran patient that spends more than 21-days in hospital for treatment is supposed to be placed on 100% disability, and be paid at the higher disability amount.  Those veterans with mental health concerns are supposed to have additional support to aid them in managing their benefits from the VA.

The VA-OIG estimated VA Regional Office employees did not adjust or incorrectly adjusted disability compensation benefits in about 2,500 of the estimated 5,800 cases eligible for adjustments, creating an estimated $8 million in improper payments in the calendar year 2018. The OIG estimated 1,900 cases did not have competency determinations documented for service-connected mental health conditions.”

Why is this another case of creatively structured incompetence, because every time the VBA gets caught not doing their job, the reason is training, reports not properly filed, and lack of managerial oversight.  I could have predicted these reasons for structured incompetence before the investigation began.  That managerial oversight, employees not filing proper and timely reports, and training not occurring for employees has been an ongoing and repeated theme in VBA incompetence since early 2000 when magically the VBA was behind in processing veterans’ claims for disability.  This theme stretches to the VBA inappropriately deciding claims for spine issues.  The same theme was reported in the VBA improperly paying benefits.  The list of offenses by the VBA is long, and the excuse is tiresome.  The VA-OIG reported:

Employees who processed benefit adjustments also lacked proficiency. They lacked sufficient ongoing experience and training to maintain requisite knowledge. This is also why employees were unclear on the requirement to document the relevant competency of veterans admitted for service-connected mental health conditions.”

ProblemsHow ironic that the root causes of a VA-OIG inspection would find people being paid to perform a job, but are not actually doing the job because they lack proficiency, training, managerial oversight, and are unclear on what they are expected to do in their jobs.

To the elected officials of the US House of Representatives and the Senate, the following are posed:

  1. If you hired a carpenter to enter your home, perform work, and you discover that the carpenter does not know the job they were hired and contracted to perform, what would be your response?  If your answer is to keep that non-working carpenter in that position, in your home, I must wonder about your intellect.
  2. How can you allow this structured incompetence to live from one VA-OIG report to the next? How can you justify this behavior at the VA?  How many other offices of inspectors general reports are reporting the same structured incompetence in Federal Employment and you are not taking immediate action to correct these deficiencies?
  3. Why should anyone re-elect you; when we the taxpayers endure this incompetence, paying you and them to abuse us. You were elected to oversee and manage that which we cannot; yet, you continually strive to perform everything but this essential role.  Why should we re-elect you to public office?

GearsThe following suggestions are offered as starting points to curb structured incompetence, improve performance, and effect positive change at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which includes the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemeteries.

  1. Implement ISO as a quality control system where processes, procedures, and policies are written down. The lack of written policies and procedures feeds structured incompetence and allows for creativity in being out of compliance with legislated mandates.
  2. Eliminate labor union protection. Government employees have negotiated plentiful benefits, working conditions, and pay without union representation, and the ability for the union to get criminal complaints dropped and worthless people their jobs back is an ultimate disgrace upon the Magna Charta of this The United States of America generally, and upon the seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs specifically.
  3. Give the VA-OIG power to enact change when cause and effect analysis shows a person is the problem specifically. Right now, the office of inspector general has the power to make recommendations, that are generally, sometimes, potentially, considered, and possible remediations adopted, maybe at some future point in time, provided a different course of action is not discovered and acted upon, or a new VA-OIG investigation commenced.  This insipid flim-flam charade must end.  People need to be held liable and accountable for how they perform their duties!
  4. Launch a VA University for employees and prospective employees to attend to gain the skills, education, and practical experience needed to be effective in their role. I know from sad experience just how worthless the training provided to new hire employees is and this is a critical issue.  You cannot hold front-line employees liable until it can be proven they know their job.  Employee training cannot occur and be effective without leadership dedicated to learning the job the right way and then performing that job in absolute compliance with the laws, policies, and procedures governing that role.  Training is a leadership function; how can supervisors be promoted and not know the role they are overseeing; a process which is too frequent in government employment.

I-CareI – Care about the VA!

When will the elected officials show you care and begin to assist in improving the plight of veterans, their dependents, and their families?

 

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

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