May 22, 2019

VA Skips Hearing Addressing Government Watchdog Recommendations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held its first Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing entitled, “Improving the Department of Veterans Affairs Effectiveness: Responding to Recommendations from Oversight Agencies” to address VA’s plan to remove itself from the GAO High Risk List.

But, in unprecedented and unacceptable fashion, VA refused to participate in the hearing.

“By not appearing today, VA is ignoring an opportunity to show that it cares about addressing the serious concerns GAO and the IG have identified,” said Chairman Takano. “Congress has a constitutional duty to oversee the federal government and this Committee will not abandon its responsibility to protect the interests of veterans, their families, and taxpayers. The Department and the Committee have a history of working cooperatively with each other and I expect VA to show up for the Committee’s future hearings.”

“Frankly, I find the VA’s absence at today’s hearing unacceptable,” said Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Pappas. “The Secretary did not offer any scheduling conflicts or other credible reasons for why he decided not to participate. Rather, he seemed to feel that it would not be in his, or the Department’s, best interests to share a panel with our two oversight witnesses. I disagree. I had planned to ask the Secretary today was whether he considers addressing the audits, examinations, and recommendations of the GAO and Inspector General to be a high priority, but VA’s refusal to even participate in today’s hearing speaks volumes.”

The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs needs to learn how VA will address the concerns identified by independent, credible investigators and auditors. It is Congress’ duty to ensure veterans are not being taken advantage of and look out for veterans across the country. Without VA’s participation, the Committee will be unable to properly fulfill its oversight role.