Tough questions came down from members of the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in attendance at yesterday’s hearings on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mail management. VA and Government Accountability Office (GAO) officials constituted a panel in today’s hearing to answer for waste, mismanagement, and inefficiency in the VA’s mail management process.
Last month, the GAO released a report on VA’s outgoing mail, stating that the VA lacked “key elements of an effective mail management program, including reliable data on mail volume and expenditures, agency-wide performance measures for mail operations, and mail managers with appropriate authority and responsibility.” In other words, oversight is severely lacking and the information being worked from is no good.
Members of the subcommittee mentioned one piece of data in which one package from a VA facility was reported to have cost $11,257 dollars. That number was incorrect due to human error — it was actually $112.57 — but that raises an equally concerning point: does that error signify underlying poor accounting practices at the VA?
Subcommittee member Rep. Jodey Arrington stressed the need for the VA to get this right, stating that “too much is not getting done at the VA” and what’s needed is “to hear more people ‘fess up to the dysfunction.” Subcommittee Chairman Jack Bergman concluded, “if anything should be predictable and efficient, it should be a mail room.”
Lack of oversight and inefficiency is a hallmark of operations at the VA, but it’s damaging to the VA’s integrity and detracts from the VA’s mission – caring for veterans. It’s clear after this mail process hearing that time, money and resources are being wasted on an issue that shouldn’t be that difficult to fix.
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