As usual, six Four Deuce mortars signaled the arrival of the VA’s finest a month in advance of the pre-scheduled inspection. Nevertheless, Little Rock got their pee pee inextricably intertwined in the zipper. Before they could hire a Ryder RentaTruck to load up all the incriminating c-files with two year old suspense dates, the OIG surrounded the Puzzle Palace and blocked the exits.
Some of you from San Smokeo seem to think the VA’s OIG fly in like the old-fashioned Air Force Operational Readiness Inspections Teams. The Commander of the Team grabs the commander of the Unit and holds him hostage while they observe how the Unit responds to various emergent situations. They were ugly and military folks treat them like the Police do Internal Affairs folks. Times have changed.
The VAOIG calls to make sure the RO’s Congressional Interests gal has made reservations at a good hotel and to get the weather report. Some even ask her to confirm their tee times. Hey. We’re all one big Happy VBA family, right? This is what the VA calls stakeholders. Everyone works together to make the wheels go round. There is no I in Team.
I find it depressing (once again on two fronts) to read this. Initially, it mimics what has been uncovered at numerous other ROs- the fudging of the dates on files under the aegis of a FAST Letter. The behaviour is a dead ringer for the VHA’s Phoenix Syndrome. Cook the books to feed the bonus machine.
I always like to turn it into a negative, as in photography, where white is black and vice versa. By viewing it in this context, you see the glaring obverse. Wouldn’t it be a scream if they showed up and everything was in order? The desks orderly with last week’s new claims? The suggestion box bulging with new ideas? VBMS computer systems that actually worked in real time? Unicorns grazing on the front lawn?
The OIG didn’t begin spilling the beans publicly until recently. The kicker before now was you had to ask for the report to find out because they didn’t publish the dirty laundry. Rending asunder centuries of splendid isolation is such a rude awakening.
- Attorney Benjamin Krause for also posting this story on his blog March 2
“Little Rock VA Caught Defrauding 48 Veterans (LINK).”
- The awesome RO VA employee who sent an anonymous tip to the OIG.
- And to the OIG staff who wrote a short report after their timely surprise visit.
From the Executive Summary:
On June 27, 2014, the Under Secretary for Benefits suspended use of Fast Letter 13-10 after the OIG determined staff were misapplying the guidance at another VARO. We had previously reported to the Under Secretary for Benefits that the guidance was used inappropriately to adjust dates of claims for unadjudicated claims discovered in the files. Changes to veterans’ claims were made to process old mail instead of unadjudicated claims information found in the files.