September 20, 2022

Chairman Takano: “I refuse to allow poor planning and inconsistent acquisition management to result in delays in providing benefits and care for veterans who are in need.”

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Miguel R. Salazar (202) 779-1486

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (HVAC) Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) delivered opening remarks at the joint Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and Subcommittee on Technology Modernization hearing entitled,  "VA Major Acquisitions Failures: In Search of Solutions."
Chairman Takano speaking
Watch Chairman Takano's remarks here.
Chairman Takano’s remarks as prepared:  

Thank you, Chairman Pappas. I would like to echo everything you said in your opening statement and emphasize the real-world implications for our veterans of VA’s failure to procure goods and services in an effective and efficient manner.  

The Technology Modernization Subcommittee has conducted extensive oversight of VA modernization this Congress.  

A common thread we’ve identified is a fundamental lack of planning, budgeting, and adherence to contracting best practices by VA and its contracting centers.  

GAO has done an excellent job cataloging what has gone wrong in the past, but I’d also like to look to the future and discuss my concerns for how continuing down the wrong path may affect implementation of the PACT Act for toxic exposed veterans.

The Veterans Benefits Administration’s IT systems are going to require significant upgrades in order to handle an influx of claims from newly eligible veterans.  

Passing the PACT Act into law was just the beginning of this journey, and I can assure our VA witnesses today that the entire Committee will be watching closely to ensure that IT modernization results in timely and accurate claims processing capabilities.  

I’m pleased that you are here, Mr. Parrish, to testify again before the Subcommittees on VA’s attempts to correct persistent problems with its major acquisition programs.

My main question today is the same question I posed to you during a November hearing from last year: Where are the checks and balances in VA’s oversight of major acquisitions?  

I still have not received a good answer to this question. I’ve read your testimony, and I believe you when you say you want to make positive changes at VA, but I’m worried that you don’t have the authority needed to halt problematic projects and course correct when necessary.  

We need to know what authority you require to make real improvements, not just at VA headquarters, but at VA contracting offices across the country. We spend too much time looking backward at failures. I want to focus on solutions that will get your office and VA’s contracting workforce in order. This is essential to the work our Committee is doing on behalf of our nation’s veterans. 

Veterans have been directly impacted by the previous acquisitions failures and poor contract management as evidenced by the EHRM program. Veteran health and welfare is at risk, and now that the PACT Act is law, I refuse to allow poor planning and inconsistent acquisition management to result in delays in providing benefits and care for veterans who are in need.  

Thank you again Chairman Pappas. I look forward to hearing from all of the witnesses and  getting answers on how we can get contracting on track at VA.