(Washington, D.C.) – Representative Charlie Dent (PA-15), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, focused on VA oversight and accountability topics in the subcommittee’s first Fiscal Year 2017 budget hearing. 

The subcommittee received testimony pertaining to the work, findings, and recommendations of the VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).  Witnesses included Mrs. Linda Halliday (Deputy Inspector General of the VA) and Dr. John D. Daigh, Jr. (Assistant Inspector General for Healthcare Inspections).  The OIG provides oversight over all VA programs and operations including the delivery of health care services and operations, benefits administration, financial management, and information technology and security.

“Unfortunately our nation’s Veterans have been forced to endure a number of questionable practices and outright scandals over the last few years.  The VA Office of Inspector General has played an important role in investigating and auditing many of these problems. Today we focused on how Congress can support and bolster the OIG’s investigations to ensure that the VA is working to meet the needs of our veterans in an accountable and transparent manner.  The bottom line is that our veterans deserve quality, timely care from the VA and a strong OIG helps makes that happen,” noted Chairman Dent.

The hearing also focused on recent developments at the Philadelphia VA Regional Office (VARO), where Ms. Diana Rubens was reinstated as the office’s director this week after an earlier decision to demote and reassign her was overturned by the Merit System Protection Board.  A September 2015 OIG report stated that Ms. Rubens had “inappropriately used her position of authority for personal and financial benefit” and alleged that she participated personally and substantially in creating opportunities for her transfer to the Philadelphia VARO.  Rep. Dent expressed his concern about the reinstatement decision’s impact on morale and trust at the facility.

In the Fiscal Year 2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, H.R. 2029, an increase of $10 million was provided for the Office of Inspector General to enhance their oversight functions.

“It is critical that Congress exercises strong oversight of the VA to ensure that the needs of our nation’s veterans are being met fully and expeditiously,” Dent continued.  “Our efforts last year allowed for the provision of additional resources for the VA OIG, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Inspector General as we advance this year’s bill.”

The entire hearing can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_ymEmVNooI

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CONTACT: Shawn Millan (610) 770-3490