Hearing shines light on delays in VA investigation

Published 1:51 am Saturday, February 27, 2016


This week the Inspector General for the Department of Veterans Affairs testified before an Appropriations oversight hearing on Capitol Hill. Serving on the Appropriations Committee, and specifically the Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, this hearing offered me an important opportunity to publicly press the Inspector General for answers about the investigation into problems within the VA.

The Office of Inspector General is supposed to be the “watchdog” agency of the VA, and my office has worked with its investigators to run down allegations of misconduct regarding Veterans’ services. Once an investigation has been completed, the reports are required to be made public so that we can see exactly what problems exist and be able to take corrective action.

However, recently there have been major delays in this reporting. The Office of Inspector General has still not reported to Congress the results of its investigation into the waiting list scandal that erupted in 2014, an investigation that included facilities here in Alabama. This almost two year delay is unacceptable, and I took the opportunity to press top officials for answers at the hearing.

During their testimony, Acting Inspector General Linda Halliday and Assistant Inspector General for Healthcare Inspections John David Daigh, Jr., MD, told the committee that their office did not intend for such a long delay and that many recommendations from their investigations are already being implemented at VA facilities. Here’s the problem: we have no way to confirm that. While I certainly hope good changes are being made at the 51 VA facilities investigated across the country, the reports are still not available.

Here in Alabama, my office was able to work directly with whistleblowers and the press to expose major instances of mismanagement, malfeasance and even criminal activity within the Central Alabama VA. As a result, the entire chain of command from Montgomery to Atlanta to Washington D.C. has been replaced and the work of turning the system around has begun. As I told the Inspector General, thank God we had courageous whistleblowers and skilled reporters to expose the truth because, if not, we’d still be waiting on their report and we probably wouldn’t know anything about the schedule manipulation, the missing X-Rays, the falsified records, the crack house incident, and a host of other problems.

My immediate priority with the VA is repairing the system so that veterans I represent get the health care they need right now. At the same time, I’m also focused on making sure what happened in Central Alabama never happens again, anywhere. To do that, we need to see exactly what the Inspector General found in its investigation.



Martha Roby represents the Wiregrass in the U.S. House of Representatives.