at The Washington Post
Veterans Affairs improperly spent $6 billion annually, senior official says
A visitor leaves the Sacramento Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Rancho Cordova, Calif., in this April 2 file photo. A new report says billions of dollars of Veterans Affairs spending did not conform to federal rules. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)
By Lisa Rein and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux
May 14, 2015
The Department of Veterans Affairs has been spending at least $6 billion a year in violation of federal contracting rules to pay for medical care and supplies, wasting taxpayer money and putting veterans at risk, according to an internal memo written by the agency's senior official for procurement.
In a 35-page document addressed to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, the official accuses other agency leaders of "gross mismanagement" and making a "mockery" of federal acquisition laws that require competitive bidding and proper contracts.
Jan R. Frye, deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, describes a culture of "lawlessness and chaos" at the Veterans Health Administration, the massive health-care system for 8.7 million veterans.
9 big takeaways from memo accusing VA of making a 'mockery' of spending rules
"Doors are swung wide open for fraud, waste and abuse," he writes in the March memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post. He adds, "I can state without reservation that VA has and continues to waste millions of dollars by paying excessive prices for goods and services due to breaches of Federal laws."
Frye describes in detail a series of practices that he says run afoul of federal rules, including the widespread use of purchase cards, which are usually meant as a convenience for minor purchases of up to $3,000, to buy billions of dollars worth of medical supplies without contracts. In one example, he says that up to $1.2 billion in prosthetics were bought using purchase cards without contracts during an 18-month period that ended last year.
He also explains how VA has failed to engage in competitive bidding or sign contracts with outside hospital and health-care providers that offer medical care for veterans that the agency cannot provide, such as specialized tests and surgeries and other procedures. Frye says VA has paid at least $5 billion in such fees, in violation of federal rules that the agency's own general counsel has said since 2009 must be followed.
Frye alleges further violations in the agency's purchase of billions of dollars worth of prosthetics and in the acquisition of a wide range of daily medical and surgical supplies. He says many products are bought without the competitive bidding and contracts essential to ensure quality care, effective use of tight dollars and proper government oversight.
Please go to the Washington Times to read the entire story
All star line up at the VA:
"In a 35-page document addressed to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, the official accuses other agency leaders of 'gross mismanagement' and making a 'mockery' of federal acquisition laws that require competitive bidding and proper contracts."
Robert McDonald succeeded Eric Shinseki, who resigned on May 30, 2014, due to the Veterans Health Administration scandal of 2014. [It still remains a "scandal", worse, this is lawlessness hiding behind "government."]
Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General Administrative Investigation Conduct Prejudicial to the Government, Veteran Employment Services Office, Office of Human Resources and Administration, Washington, DC
The "Federal Government" awarding their own without independent evaluation or objective analysis is sheer incompetence, the epitome of arrogance and reflects self-serving compromised bureaucrats:
OH NO! MS. SANTIAGO’S BACK!
2012 Causey Awards Winner - Mary Santiago
Mary Santiago, VA
#1984: Marine Links Serco Fraud on Veterans Affairs to Shinseki Obama Baginski's Color of Law
Plum City – (AbelDanger.net). United States Marine Field McConnell has linked Serco employees' documented fraud on Veterans Affairs at a Veterans Hiring Fair (hiring fair) held in Detroit, MI, June 26–28, 2012, to the apparent abuse of veterans under color of law by General Eric Shineski, Barack Obama and Maureen Baginski and the alleged infiltration of U.S. law-enforcement agencies with uniformed paramilitaries deployed and/or equipped through Serco's DAC (Defense Ammunition Center) Ammunition Community of Practice.
"TO: Interim VA Chief of Staff
SUBJECT: Administrative Investigation, Conduct Prejudicial to the Government, Veteran Employment Services Office (VESO), Office of Human Resources and Administration (HR&A), Washington, DC (2013-00235IQ-0004)
We substantiated that Ms. Mary Santiago, former (retired) Director of VESO, failed to represent VA's Core Values of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence (ICARE). We found that Ms. Santiago and Ms. Katherine Nix, a Serco Services, Inc. (Serco) contractor employee, knowingly misrepresented the results of the VA for Vets Veterans Hiring Fair (hiring fair) held in Detroit, MI, June 26–28, 2012, and intentionally reported fictitious results to VA Senior Leadership. Reports produced by Serco, under Ms. Nix's supervision, and approved by Ms. Santiago, reflected that 1,321 tentative selections (defined by Ms. Santiago and Ms. Nix as candidates selected to fill positions) were made during the hiring fair; however, we found that at least 574 or about 43 percent of those reported tentative selections never occurred. Evidence also reflected a high probability that the total number of falsely reported selections exceeded 574. We also found that Ms. Santiago did not properly manage her workforce, frequently used obscene and demeaning language, engaged in verbally abusive behavior toward VESO staff and VA contractor employees, and she engaged in the appearance of a conflict of interest by maintaining a less-than-arm's-length relationship with Ms. Nix. Further, we found that Ms. Nix displayed a lack of candor while testifying under oath. Ms. Santiago announced her retirement shortly after being told of our investigation and declined to be interviewed.
We also substantiated that VESO, through an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) interagency agreement (IA), paid Serco, as the servicing contractor, $509,884 for an Event Management System (EMS), a component of Serco's Case Management System (CMS), to accurately collect and report data both during and after the hiring fair.
However, we found that the system was not designed to capture accurate data to support VA's needs nor could any of the tainted data contained within it be reconstructed to verify the reported facts and figures. We found that VESO accepted and paid Serco for EMS without inspecting or testing it to ensure that it complied with VA's software requirements or that it fulfilled VA's needs during or after the hiring fair. For additional information on Serco's contract with VESO, see, OIG's Office of Audits and Evaluations report, Review of Acquisitions Supporting the Veteran Employment Services Office (2013-00644-R1-0036). http://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-13-00235-225a.pdf"
"Department of Veterans Affairs – VA for Vets http://www.serco-na.com/tma/va.html
Contract Type: FFP
Period of Performance: 01/02/10 to 9/4/13
Since 2010, Serco has provided integrated Training and Learning and Human Capital solutions to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) through its flagship initiative, VA for Vets. Our effort helps fulfill VA Secretary Shinseki's mission to increase the number of Veteran employees in the VA workforce. To achieve this goal, Veterans Employment Services Office (VESO) tasked Serco to develop a robust Career Center. Serco's high-tech, high-touch solution offers Veterans real-time, on-demand support services to launch or advance their career with VA. We provide expert coaching to Veterans in translating military skills into civilian language to build a Federal resume. Our Veteran-focused onboarding and mentoring program ensures a smooth transition into VA or other Federal agencies. For Veterans already working in VA, Serco has partnered with MyCareer@VA to identify paths for professional growth and develop full-deployment lifecycle resources and coaching support for active service members.
In addition to receiving Federal Government–wide recognition for its Veteran Career Center, VA for Vets has hosted both virtual and live hiring events where thousands of Veterans received one-on-one coaching support, training, and opportunities to network and interview with government agencies and private sector employers.
Types of Solutions Developed:
Serco is responsible for managing all aspects of this large, complex program for the VA. To support the deployment/adoption of services and tools that constitute the VA for Vets program, Serco provides training program management services including developing and delivering instructor-led training (ILT) and innovative, leading-edge web-based training (WBT) programs that meet and exceed the learning objectives of VA's diverse, geographically dispersed workforce. Throughout program implementation and post implementation, we continually assess and evaluate learner engagement, knowledge transfer, and return on investment to ensure increased job performance. We have consistently applied the best instructional design and delivery methods for the situation and audience including, mobile applications, video-based training, WBT, or ILT. This program demonstrates Serco's experience delivering engaging and effective role-based, tailored learning solutions that mirror the customer's work environment, and a range of instructional methods and high-end learning technologies (i.e., virtual 3D environments, interactive video-based courseware, and desktop synchronous video). It also demonstrates Serco's ability to select, implement, customize, and integrate learning and human performance technologies into a comprehensive learning environment.
In October 2010, Serco facilitated in-person and virtual focus group sessions across the United States over a two-week period with Military Service Members, Hiring Managers, Supervisors and Human Resource Professionals representing multiple offices across VA to understand the challenges and opportunities for "reintegrating" Military Service Members into the VA workforce upon their return from active duty. Serco immediately identified significant, mission-critical competency gaps across the VA among all stakeholder groups with respect to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), deployment preparation, preparing for job interviews, and Veterans hiring and retention. Serco subsequently designed, developed, and delivered blended learning solutions that were originally intended for a three-year period of performance within one year. Serco designed and implemented a high-impact blended learning program that addresses affective, cognitive, and skills-based learning objectives. We leveraged the existing VA HR Academy to provide access to Electronic Performance Support System (EPSS) tools for task assistance and decision-aiding.
For Military Service Members employed at VA, Serco designed case-based and simulated scenarios to train the phases of the deployment lifecycle. Interactive video vignettes addressed cultural biases and changed behaviors. This innovative approach replaced passive "teach by telling" approaches with an active "learn by doing" immersive experience where students made real-life decisions based on real-life situations. This made it easier to internalize course content. Following the initial learning activity, Serco designed self-study resources hosted by the VA for Vets website or the VA Talent Management System (TMS), and webinars to target specific learning topics. Additional "classroom events" were delivered using a synchronous web-based environment where live instructors taught and facilitated group discussion, guiding and coaching supervisors to learn and apply new skills and work through unfamiliar situations (while eliminating travel costs).
Serco developed targeted EPSS tools and learning job aids to supplement, or in some cases replace, formal training. The "Ready to Deploy," "Coming Home," and "Settling In" deployment checklists help distil information and knowledge needed by Service Members to perform needed steps independently and accurately. Serco also developed a mobile EPSS, Veteran Interviewing Aid (VIA), which served as a training mechanism regarding interviewing best practices and as a method of practicing skills, refreshing memories, and tracking individual's interview progress in real time."
"Defense Ammunition Center (DAC)
Contract Type: Fixed Price
Period of Performance: 10/1/2008 to 9/30/2013
Since 2008, Serco has assisted DAC with the analysis, design, development, implementation, management/ administration, and evaluation of integrated, enterprise-wide and component-specific training, learning, knowledge management, and strategic human resource management interventions that are critical to achieving their mission. Serco holds an OPM TMA TO with DAC and also a contract through GSA Millenia Lite. When the GSA contract could not support all of DACs needs, Serco recommended the use of the OPM TMA vehicle. Through these contracts, Serco provides training program management support to deliver multi-faceted best practice solutions in training development and delivery, knowledge management, portal technologies, course conversions (ILT and CBT to WBT), mobile performance applications, and Learning Management Systems support. Serco applies the ADDIE model to all course development activities including ILT, WBT, and leading-edge technologies including mobile performance applications. Serco provided LMS support and also developed and continues to manage DAC's Ammunition Community of Excellence.
Types of Solutions Developed:
Serco converted DAC curriculum from predominantly ILT to a blended training environment that provided DL, ILT support, continuous performance support through a CoP, and mobile application tools for approximately 110,000 students annually. To date, Serco has worked with DAC to grow their online curriculum to more than 60 courses representing approximately 240 hours of training. Serco assisted DAC in migrating to the mandated Army Learning Management System (ALMS) in less than six months. Serco also provides ongoing support for the identification of new DL courses while maintaining and updating the spectrum of existing courses. On the ILT front, Serco provides design support and, when required, additional facilitator/instructor support for several courses.
The CoP provides a repository of relevant materials, a forum for collaborative sharing of information, and an "Ask an Expert" capability for soldiers to receive answers to their questions from qualified DAC resources. The CoP enjoys more than 10,000 active members and has received numerous accolades from appreciative members.
Most recently, Serco proposed the inclusion of mobile application tools and games to reinforce training and provide continuous and "in the field" performance support. To date, Serco has developed six mobile apps which have been distributed for both the iOS (Apple App Store) and Android (Google Play) environments. Together, these apps have reached over 15,000 soldiers and have allowed DAC to become a center of excellence in this burgeoning training environment.
Intended or Achieved Result:
Through the design and delivery of customized instructor-led, web-based training and distribution of mobile performance supports, Serco has increased the number of DAC learners by 10–15% year over year. Serco has increased the number of DAC learners reached annually by 10%–15% via varied modalities. In 2011 alone:
110,000 Soldiers took a Serco-authored DAC Distance Learning course
15,000 Soldiers participated in a Serco-developed, DAC-sponsored ILT course 15,000 people used the Serco-administrated DAC Ammunition CoP to discover information, references or collaborate with other ammunition professionals"
"Scandal-hit VA secretary RESIGNS after report finds 'unacceptable' abuse that delayed medical treatment to military veterans
Gen. Eric Shinseki is out after months of controversy and dozens of veterans' deaths Obama accepted his resignation Friday morning after learning how deep-seated the VA's problems are
Managers at more than 60 percent of the VA's hospitals lied about how long veterans were waiting for care, an internal audit of the VA found
The White House hedged its bets a day earlier, stopping short of expressing the president's 'confidence' in the cabinet secretary
Obama told reporters that Shinseki himself decided to step down, but the change had all the markings of an Oval Office firing
In a public speech just hours earlier, Shinseki described his plans to fix his agency's 'breach of integrity'
By DAVID MARTOSKO, U.S. POLITICAL EDITOR and FRANCESCA CHAMBERS
PUBLISHED: 15:28 GMT, 30 May 2014 | UPDATED: 22:14 GMT, 30 May 2014
President Obama announced late Friday morning that he has accepted 'with considerable regret' the resignation of scandal-hit Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. But the shake-up had all the markings of an Oval Office firing.
At a hastily arranged press conference, Obama said: 'Ric's commitment to our veterans is unquestioned. His service to our country is exemplary.'
'I am grateful for his service, as are many veterans across the country,' he said.
The president said Shinseki, a wounded Vietnam veteran, was a 'very good man' and that it was his own decision to step down – he was becoming a 'distraction' to sorting out the waiting list scandal that has engulfed the agency and the White House in recent weeks.
It was 'Ric's judgement that he could not carry out the next stages of reform without being a distraction himself,' Obama said. 'My assessment was, unfortunately, he is right.'
But just a few hours earlier, Shinseki spoke at a meeting of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans in Washington, D.C., sounding very much like a man prepared to fight for his job with big plans to fix his agency's 'breach of integrity.
Obama also said Friday that he had received a report proving that reported medical-system abuses were widespread, and insisted that misdeeds would not go unpunished: Senior staff at the VA were being fired and bonuses cancelled for senior staff.
'I think he is deeply disappointed in the fact that bad news did not get to him,' the president said of Shinseki, 'and that the structures weren’t in place for him to identify this problem quickly and fix it.'
Support for Shinseki had quickly eroded on Capitol Hill, with more than 100 members of Congress calling for his ouster by Friday.
Many were Democrats facing tough re-election battles in states where Republicans dominate the electorate.
But leading the charge was Republican Sen. John McCain from Arizona, where the VA's most high-profile failures first surfaced.
'If Secretary Shinseki does not step down voluntarily,' McCain said Wednesday, 'then I call on the president of the United States to relieve him of his duties, to fire him.'
More congressional outrage and high-road commentary followed Friday morning's changing of the guard.
Another Arizonan, Republican Paul Gosar, laid the scandal squarely on Obama's shoulders. 'President Obama has ostensibly forced Secretary Shinseki to resign over the scandals and systemic failures at the Veterans Administration. I appreciate the President and Secretary Shinseki heeding my call and those of my colleagues to resign. But I say accountability ends at the President’s feet,' Gosar said Friday.
'As the sign on President Harry Truman’s desk in the Oval Office stated, "The buck stops here." ... The president needs to step up and set a better example of leadership.'
'With Secretary Shinseki's resignation today, we can begin to address the systemic dysfunction that has plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs for years,' said California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who chairs the powerful Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the House of Representatives.
'There are serious problems at the VA that won’t be solved simply by replacing the secretary,' explained a more defensive Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from the state of Washington.
Nebraska Republican Sen. Deb Fischer took a swipe at the Obama administration, saying the VA lacked 'accountability' and 'is in desperate need of stronger, more aggressive leadership.' A pair of senators, one from each major party, also demanded a criminal investigation by the FBI.
Senate Appropriations Committee chair Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, and its vice-chair, Alabama Republican Richard Shelby, said they would propose a bill next week giving the FBI the resources it will need 'for criminal and civil investigations into allegations that the VA falsified patient records at centers and clinics across the country.'
'This scandal has dragged on over a decade,' they wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. 'We believe the Department of Justice should begin investigations right away … and bring any charges that might be appropriate.'
New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, known on Capitol Hill as a partisan's partisan, said in a statement to MailOnline that Shinseki 'is in the fullest sense of the word a true patriot. In keeping with General Shinseki’s stellar character, he offered his resignation because he realized, as every good soldier does, that the buck stops at the top.'
Obama said Friday that VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson would step in as acting secretary of the VA while the administration looks for a permanent replacement for Shinseki.
The president said he spoke to Gibson this morning and 'made it clear that reforms should not wait.'
Obama also announced that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors, who is leading the VA's internal review of its practices, will stay on temporarily at the VA while reforms are put in place.
Support for Shinseki seemed to crater in recent days, with press secretary Jay Carney refusing on Thursday to answer a yes-or-no question about whether the president still had 'confidence' in Shinseki.
On May 19, as the worst of the allegations against the VA yet came in, Obama's chief spokesman stated flatly that 'the president has confidence in Secretary Shinseki.' But on Thursday he dodged a point-blank dare to repeat that endorsement.
Carney calmly offered a contradictory set of guidelines about actions the VA and the White House should take in response to the brewing veterans' health care scandal.
'This is very important,' Carney said just minutes into his briefing on Thursday. 'The VA should not and must not wait for the current investigation of VA operations to conclude before taking steps to improve care.'
Moments later he told reporters that President Obama would likely wait before taking action. 'The president identified last week that he expected a preliminary report from Secretary Shinseki's internal audit very soon,' instructed Carney. 'And once he receives that he'll be able to evaluate those findings along with what we're seen in the interim report from the inspector general, and then assess where we are at that time.'
But hours before he was to meet face-to-face with Obama in the Oval Office, Shinseki was focused on fixing that 'breach of integrity' – describing the firing of top VA managers at the agency's medical center in Phoenix.
While Shinseki was speaking, Obama was appearing on the 'Live With Kelly and Michael' show in a segment taped a day earlier.
He described a 'serious conversation' he would soon have with his VA secretary about 'whether he thinks that he is prepared and has the capacity to take on the job of fixing it.'
On Wednesday the VA's inspector general released a preliminary report showing that veterans in Phoenix, Arizona, waited an average of 115 days for a first medical appointment, and that 1,700 of them were left off of waiting lists and denied care entirely. About 40 veterans died while waiting to see doctors in Phoenix alone.
An internal review of the VA headed up by Nabors found that managers at more than 60 percent of the VA's hospitals had been lying about how long veterans were waiting for care and there was a 'systemic lack of integrity within some Veterans Health Administration facilities.'
That report hit Obama's desk Friday morning after Shinseki delivered brief remarks to the homeless veterans group.
Shortly after, Shinseki resigned.
'He felt like new leadership would be -- would serve our veterans best,' Obama said on Friday. /And I agree with him. '"
McConnell believes that Serco should be treated as a racketeering influenced and corrupt organization (RICO) and Gen. Shineski, Barack Obama and Maureen Baginski should be sued for damages associated with abuse of office and the wrongful deaths caused either by medical malpractice or the provision of ammunition to false-flag events (Sandy Hook, Navy Yard).
Field McConnell, United States Naval Academy, 1971; Forensic Economist; 30 year airline and 22 year military pilot; 23,000 hours of safety; Tel: 715 307 8222
David Hawkins Tel: 604 542-0891 Forensic Economist; former leader of oil-well blowA-out teams; now sponsors Grand Juries in CSI Crime and Safety Investigation