Washington, DC - June 15, 2015 - U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice announced today that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General has agreed to investigate allegations of abuse of purchase cards at a VA health care facility in the Bronx. Rice, a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, called for the investigation during a May subcommittee hearing on allegations of waste, fraud and abuse in VA’s Purchase Card Program, which allows certain VA employees to make minor purchases of less than $3,000 for medical care and supplies without competitive bidding processes and written contracts. Citing a VA official’s memo to VA Secretary Robert McDonald about problems with the Purchase Card Program, Rice highlighted a case at the James J. Peters Medical Center in the Bronx, where a supervisor recorded more than $50 million in prosthetics purchases in increments of $24,999 – just one dollar below the purchase card’s $25,000 charge limit, which VA’s Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Evaluations agreed was a “red flag” that warrants further investigation. VA has claimed that all files related to these procurement actions had been housed in the Veterans Integrated Service Network 3 (VISN 3) facility in Manhattan, and were destroyed during Superstorm Sandy.
“Since joining the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I’ve seen more than enough evidence to be outraged by the lack of accountability within VA,” said Representative Kathleen Rice. “I know there are good people within VA who sincerely want to regain the trust of veterans and taxpayers, and completing this investigation will be an important part of that effort. The damage caused by Superstorm Sandy was devastating and far-reaching, but the claim that all of these documents were destroyed strikes me as all too convenient and must be substantiated. We need to know exactly what happened to the documents, how and why this money was spent without written contracts, and who is accountable. I look forward to seeing the results of this investigation and continuing to reform VA so that our nation’s veterans receive the high-quality care and support that they deserve.”
The letter from VA’s Deputy Inspector General announcing the investigation is available here.
Video of the subcommittee hearing is available here. Between approximately 1:21:00 and 1:25:00 in the video file, Rice requests the investigation and raises questions about VA’s claim that all relevant documentation was destroyed during Superstorm Sandy.