IN WAKE OF VETERANS AFFAIRS OIG REPORT, SHAHEEN REQUESTS BRIEFING ON NEW HAMPSHIRE FINDINGS

May 29, 2014

(Washington, DC) – In response to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) report confirming allegations of gross mismanagement of VA resources and criminal misconduct at VA facilities, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) is requesting a full briefing on the findings of rapid audit teams deployed across the VA enterprise, including at the Manchester and White River Junction VA Medical Centers that serve New Hampshire’s veterans. In a letter sent today to VA Acting OIG Richard Griffin, Shaheen specifically requests a briefing on the information gathered to be held as soon as possible so that she may “address any resources deficiencies immediately through this year’s appropriations process.”

“The report documents gross misconduct by certain Department of Veterans Affairs officials at the Phoenix VA Health Care System, including falsification of patient wait time records to conceal a significant backlog in medical appointment requests,” Shaheen wrote regarding the OIG report released Wednesday. “These problems must be addressed immediately.”

Shaheen, who called for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki following the release of the OIG report and is a cosponsor the bipartisan the VA Management Accountability Act, continued, “I know that you share my concern and frustration that VA executives charged with the care of our servicemen and women would deliberately misrepresent their performance and jeopardize the health and well-being of thousands of veterans seeking care.”

Shaheen added, “The information gathered through these evaluations will provide us with important insight into the breadth of this crisis.”

The full text of Shaheen’s letter is below.

May 29, 2014

The Honorable Richard J. Griffin

Acting Inspector General

Department of Veterans Affairs                                                                                                                                                          

801 I Street, NW                                                                                                                

Washington, D.C. 20001

Dear Mr. Griffin:

I am very troubled by the findings outlined in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of the Inspector General’s report titled Review of Patient Wait Times, Scheduling Practices, and Alleged Patient Deaths at the Phoenix Health Care System. The report documents gross misconduct by certain Department of Veterans Affairs officials at the Phoenix VA Health Care System, including falsification of patient wait time records to conceal a significant backlog in medical appointment requests. These problems must be addressed immediately. 

I know that you share my concern and frustration that VA executives charged with the care of our servicemen and women would deliberately misrepresent their performance and jeopardize the health and well-being of thousands of veterans seeking care.  

I also appreciate the aggressive response from your office to date, particularly the deployment of rapid audit teams across the VA enterprise, including at the Manchester, New Hampshire and White River Junction, Vermont VA Medical Centers that serve New Hampshire’s veterans. The information gathered through these evaluations will provide us with important insight into the breadth of this crisis.

Given the seriousness of these findings and its potential impact on New Hampshire veterans, I respectfully request a full briefing regarding the report’s findings generally, as well as the results of the investigations at Manchester and White River Junction specifically, as soon as possible.  I appreciate the demands on your time are significant; however I want to ensure that Congress is able to address any resource deficiencies immediately through this year’s appropriations process. 

On behalf of veterans in New Hampshire and around the country, I thank you for your continued service.

Sincerely,

Jeanne Shaheen
United States Senator