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Opening Statement of Hon. Harry E. Mitchell, Chairman, and a Representative in Congress from the State of Arizona

I would like to begin today by welcoming our new Members from both sides of the aisle, welcoming our witnesses, and our guests. 

This is our first oversight subcommittee hearing of the 110th Congress.  Today, the VA Inspector General will provide an assessment of issues, problems, and best practices at VA.  We may also look for avenues in which this subcommittee can help the Inspector General to better do his job.  Thus far, it looks like his team is doing a great job with the resources allotted.

This subcommittee has a long history of working with the VA Inspector General.  They are the first stop, the first call so-to-speak, when our subcommittee needs a first-hand assessment from a field location or regarding operations at VA’s Central Office. 

I have asked the Inspector General to be accompanied by staff experts in audit, contracting, healthcare and investigations.  I am interested in their views – as honest brokers – as to how the VA, as a very large federal organization, is doing.  

This topic and this hearing are our place to start our oversight assessment of VA.  The IG has significant knowledge and recent hands-on experience in matters that impact VA.  I would stress that we do not only want to hear about what VA is doing wrong – we want to hear about what it is doing right – we want to hear about best practices at VA and we want to do what we can to see those best practices grow and multiply. 

The best situation is when VA is proactive and identifies and solves potential problems before they become real problems.  We all strive to be proactive, but all too often we end up just being reactive.   

Of necessity, we may do both on this subcommittee, but we will strive to be proactive as often as practicable.

I will now ask my colleague and Ranking Republican Member, Ms Ginny Brown-Waite if she has opening comments.  I look forward to working with her during these next two years. 

I recognize Ms. Brown-Waite for opening remarks.