VA Conference Expenditures Under Investigation
This sort of funny money accounting must stop, and will no longer be tolerated, especially in today’s tight fiscal climate. Without a doubt, this appears to be a systemic problem at VA, and using the figures based in today’s report, it can be reasonably concluded that 10-15 percent of VA’s conference spending is wasteful, amounting to $10-15 million a year, at the least. I am calling on VA to review these findings, and take appropriate action, especially at the senior management level.” -- Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) today released its final findings on its investigation of possible improper expenditures and abuses by government employees at two VA human resources conferences held last year in Orlando, Florida. The cost of the two conferences were determined to be $6.1 million.
Final findings include:
- $6.1 million was spent on the two Human Resources conferences in Orlando, not $5.1 million as previously stated by VA.
- VA employees improperly accepted gifts including room upgrades, meals, limousine services, golf, spa services, helicopter rides, and tickets for the Rockettes.
- Contract violations and lack of oversight led to excessive costs and illegal or wasteful expenditures.
- There was inappropriate use of government purchase cards
- $97,906 VA spent on promotional items (including bags, pens, water bottles, and exercise bands) were determined to unnecessary and wasteful.
In August, the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Rep. Jeff Miller, and Ranking Member, Rep. Bob Filner, sent a letter to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Honorable Eric. K. Shinseki. The letter requested that VA detail all conference expenditures by the department since 2009, including clarifying whether VA spends $20 million on conferences annually, or $100 million, differing numbers cited in Congressional testimony by VA officials.
To read the full letter, click here.
A RESPONSE FROM VA TO THAT LETTER HAS STILL NOT BEEN RECEIVED
VA Conference Spending 2005-2011
- Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Burr Call for Removal of VA Chief of Staff, October 5, 2012
- VA OIG: Adminsitrative Investigation of FY 2011 Human Resources Conferences in Orlando, Florida, October 1, 2012
- 2005-2011 VA Conference Spending (Source: Department of Veterans Affairs)
- Press statement by Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, on final OIG Investigation, October 1, 2012
- VA Memorandum Approving Orlando HR Conferences, December 8, 2010
- Press statement by the Rep. Jeff Miller Chairman, August 13, 2012
- "Patton" Style VA Conference Videos
- VA Canteen Service Italy Slide Show
- Vegas Conference Pictures
- U.S. Veterans Agency Official Resigns Before Report on Spending (Bloomberg, September 30, 2012)
- GOP lawmaker questions spending at VA conferences (AP, August 13, 2012)
- Veterans Affairs agency under investigation for conference spending (Washington Post, August 14, 2012)
- Another government spending scandal? (Fox News, August 14, 2012)
- Fed probe of Veterans (swingin’) Affairs (New York Post, August 15, 2012)
- DVDs Reveal Conference Shenanigans (Federal Times, November 28, 2012)