Opening Statement of Hon. Joe Donnelly, Ranking Democratic Member, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
I would like to welcome everyone today, as we have the opportunity to conduct the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (O&I) first hearing of the 112th Congress. I am honored to serve as the Ranking Member and look forward to working with Chairman Johnson and other members on both sides of the aisle. Prior to today’s hearing we had the opportunity to meet and discuss the O&I agenda for the upcoming year and from our discussions I know we have a full agenda, and one we are both committed to working in a bipartisan manner as we seek to provide the oversight our nation’s veterans rightly deserve.
Today’s hearing is an example of our bipartisan work. The VA procurement efforts and initiatives have been problematic and controversial at times. It is important that we make certain the VA is doing their due diligence prior to awarding a contract. There are many steps the VA must take in between initiating procurement project proposals and post-awards. Today, we hope the VA will assure us that construction projects are fully reviewed to ensure successful delivery and management.
It seems to me that there have been too many VA Office of Inspector General reports indicating VA’s lack of contract details. Furthermore, unrealistic and unreasonable acquisition plans have led to escalated contract costs and unmet contractor milestones. One of my concerns is, how many times does my staff need to meet with the VA only to find out that after millions of dollars have been spent on a contract the contractor walks away with these funds after the VA cancels their contracts due to unmet deliverables. This is an indication of poorly reviewed and administered contracts.
Furthermore, since the 110th Congress the Committee has been providing oversight on contract bundling. I am familiar with these issues, having been a member of the Committee on Veterans Affairs since the 110th Congress and participated in various hearings on this topic. Contract bundling by Contracting Officers should be reviewed carefully as well. Whether it may be awarding contracts or set-aside initiatives for veteran owned small businesses, bundled contracts create opportunities for fraud and mismanagement. I will be particularly interested in the implementation of the VA’s Electronic Contract Management System (eCMS).