Congressman Bob Filner, Ranking Democratic Member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, released the following statement regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (VAOIG) report regarding the administrative investigation of the FY 2011 Human Resources Conferences in Orlando, Florida. The VAOIG concluded that VA leadership failed to provide proper oversight, that VA employees improperly accepted gifts, and that VA could not properly account for the costs of the conferences. The VAOIG also identified $762,000 in questionable expenditures and issued 49 recommendations.
"Yesterday's report demonstrates yet again a clear lack of accountability from VA senior leadership and the needless waste of taxpayer dollars.
"No one has been a greater champion or advocate regarding the need to provide more resources to our veterans. Every day we hear of veterans not receiving the care or services promised to them, and every day we realize that the needs of our veterans are not being met.
"It is simply unacceptable to me that VA management and leadership are not spending the resources we provide them in a wise fashion.
"Secretary Shinseki is working to transform the VA. As part of that effort I am calling on him to take bold and decisive steps to change, once and for all, the management culture at the VA, a culture that does not question the expenditure of funds and cannot account for them once they are spent. Leadership that does not follow VA policy or procedure and is not held responsible for these failures.
"Revamped policies regarding VA conferences put out yesterday are improvements, but will only be effective if management and leadership is held accountable, and if they approach spending taxpayer dollars with the same care and attention they would approach spending their own resources.
"This VA culture has gone on too long, from administration to administration, and it simply must stop. I will be asking Secretary Shinseki to provide me with a detailed plan on the steps that he is going to take before the year is out to change the course of the VA and ensure that funding we provide goes to meet the needs of our veterans."