Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning.
I'm pleased to be here today to discuss contracting and procurement issues within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).
VA's troubled contracting and procurement processes have long been an issue of great concern to this Committee and the subject of various Government Accountability Office (GAO) and VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports that continue to cite major deficiencies and material weaknesses.
Given the wide scope of VHA's reach and budget, it is particularly important that we ensure that they have the proper procedures and oversight mechanisms in place to ensure that VHA procurement and contracting is done responsibly, appropriately, and with proper oversight.
In that vein, I am particularly concerned about testimony we will hear by the Office of Inspector General that " data in VA and VHA acquisition support information systems is incomplete and unreliable."
Without accurate data, we have no idea what we're doing right, what we're doing wrong, where we are, where we're going, and where we need help.
This is unacceptable within a system that is responsible for the care of our Nation's veterans and spent a little over nine billion dollars on health care goods and services last fiscal year alone.
Streamlining contracting and procurement processes to eliminate the potential for waste, fraud, and abuse while at the same time improving the cost and comfort of doing business with VA to ensure our veteran heroes have access to the highest quality medical care is and should be at the top of our priority list.
I look forward to hearing from the witnesses on our first panel about the obstacles to doing business with VHA and from the government witnesses on our second and third panels about the functioning of VHA's acquisition system.
Although we are nearing the end of this legislative session, I am hopeful that we will be able to move legislation, H.R. 4221, the Department of Veterans Affairs Acquisition Improvement Act of 2009, introduced by our Ranking Member, Steve Buyer. This bill that I am an original cosponsor of would correct the long-term procurement issues within VA and provide greater oversight of VA's contracting and asset management processes.
I thank you all for being here for this discussion and I yield back the balance of my time.