House adopts Connolly amendment to boost funding for Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General

Gerry ConnollyThe House of Representatives unanimously voted today to adopt an amendment offered by Congressman Gerry Connolly, Vice Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, that would increase funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General by $1 million. Connolly offered this amendment in response to recent reports that have found widespread problems at the DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“We witnessed unacceptable leadership failures and pervasive understaffing at the DC VA Medical Center that underpinned widespread issues in inventory management, sterile processing and patient safety,” Representative Connolly said. “What’s more troubling, the VAOIG report makes clear that these failings have persisted for the better part of a decade.”

“We owe it to our veterans to not only address these problems, but also to understand how they were allowed to arise in the first place,” said Connolly. “The only way we can do that is to ensure the Inspector General has the resources necessary to carry out rigorous oversight.”

The Inspector General recently concluded a yearlong investigation into critical deficiencies at the DC VA Medical Center. In its final report, issued on March 7, 2018, the VAOIG highlighted that leadership failures and pervasive understaffing underpinned widespread issues in inventory management, sterile processing, and patient safety. The VAOIG found continual mismanagement of protected information and significant government resources, putting them at risk for fraud, waste, and abuse.

Across the Inspector General community, the VAOIG’s staffing is among the smallest ratio of oversight staff to agency staff and the OIG budget represents less than 0.1 percent of the VA’s overall budget. VA Inspector General Michael Missal recently wrote that that the FY 2019 appropriation of $172 million “would likely require a decrease of about 28 OIG staff,” which “would inevitably result in a curtailment of some of our oversight activities.” Connolly’s amendment would help the OIG meet its mission.

Last month, Congressman Connolly sent a letter to leaders on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the  Veterans Affairs Committee requesting an urgent hearing on the DC VA Medical Center.

Text of Connolly’s amendment is available here.

Video of Connolly’s floor remarks is available here.

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