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Opening Statement of Hon. Ginny Brown-Waite, Ranking Republican Member, and a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida

Thank you Mr. Chairman for yielding.

This is the first Subcommittee hearing for the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and I appreciate the Inspector General coming in to testify before this Subcommittee regarding the President’s proposed budget for FY 2008, as it relates to the Office of the Inspector General.

The VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is responsible for the audit, investigation, and inspection of all VA programs and operations.  Given the recent demand for greater accountability within all the business lines at the VA, I am sure that the workload within the Office of Inspector General has increased significantly in the past year.

Therefore, I find the budget before us very disconcerting, in that the amount the Administration has requested for the Office of the Inspector General is $72.6 million, and allows for 445 Full Time Equivalent Employees (FTEE) to support the activities of the OIG.  During FY 2006, OIG identified over $900 million in monetary benefits, for a return of $12 for every dollar expended on OIG oversight. 

The OIG closed 652 investigations, made 712 arrests, 344 indictments, 214 criminal complaints, 316 convictions, and 833 administrative sanctions.  My understanding is that the requested funding level would result is a reduction of 40 FTEE from current staffing levels.

I am concerned that the funding levels the Administration is requesting may not be sufficient to continue the work that is currently being performed by the OIG, and I look forward to hearing Mr. Opfer testify on this matter, as well as others.

Again, thank you Mr. Chairman for yielding.