Summer 2011 Action Platform for American Veterans
Action Initiatives by Circle of Friends for American Veterans For Broader and Deeper Support for Homeless and American Veterans & Massive Federal Budget Reductions, Through Sweeping Fiscal Reform at the Veterans' Affairs and Other Cabinet Departments
The challenge facing American Veterans because of the fiscal mismanagement at the VA are emblematic of the systemic management oversight debacle in the executive departments that is squandering hundreds of billions of the taxpayers' money. Genuine management reform at the VA will bring far more expansive services to veterans at a far lower cost. The budget saving reforms at the VA are applicable to measures that can be taken at the other 14 departments, providing massive savings in federal spending and the national debt.
I. VA Procurement Morass
Problem: An extensive GAO investigation found that the VA procurement system is wasting billions of the taxpayers' dollars through "waste fraud and abuse." The VA was found to spend $7 billion in issuing over 130,000 purchase orders, for which there are no negotiation of services for competitive rates. Seventy percent (70%) of purchase orders did not even have a vender's name.
Solution: Through hearings and the will of the Congress, the VA should be enjoined to implement a simple edict/guideline: "Any miscellaneous obligations that has been paid to one vender for a good or service in excess of 100 goods or services in the past fiscal year will be bundled and negotiated for a quantity discount for the current fiscal year." In one simple fell swoop, fiscal reform can save billions while providing more services.
II. VA Squanders Billions By Not Collecting Insurance Fees
Problem: A 16 month GAO investigation into billing and collecting processes showed that the VA failed to collect a projected $12 billion from insurance companies. "Inadequate management and little or no oversight" resulted in coding errors and outright failures to follow up on collections. The GAO found there are "no policies or procedures" for oversight at the $110+ billion agency, tasked to safeguard those who stood up for America.
Solution: As with the procurement report by the GAO, in a couple page response, the VA agreed to all the recommendations in the uncollected insurance fees and then did nothing. After Congressional Veterans' Affairs hearings on the GAO findings and failure of VA compliance, the matter was dropped. The most direct, fastest method for fiscal reform at the VA is for the Congress to push and the President to appoint a flamethrower to the long vacant post as Assistant Secretary for Management. The other solution is to empower the VA IG with real power to effect macro, system wide oversight and fiscal management reform.
III. Intractable Spending Throughout 15 Executive Cabinet Departments
Problem: The billions squandered through fiscal mismanagement at the VA, is replicated at all the other executive departments. Actually, the VA IG uncovered the fiscal mismanagement, but was powerless to force effective change. Typically, IG's are ombudsmen who administrative matters, individual crimes and also some "mid-range" cost savings, typically in the tens of millions of dollars. The IG kicked the can to the VA Subcommittee of Oversight & Investigations, who kicked it to the GAO, who kicked back to the Committee, who kicked it to the VA, who kicked it back to the Committee, where it sits.
Solution: Through law, grant all the 16 executive departments IG's (63) full subpoena powers… especially the power to call witnesses, including federal employees. With enforcement power to effect systemic change, the IG's will shed light on dysfunctional fiscal management in all executive departments and bring the full power of public opinion to demand management oversight. Through hearings, Congress can provide transparency for reform in fiscal management oversight that will provide better government and more services, costing far less.
Summation: The VA is seriously hampering itself from providing fuller services for American Veterans, through failures in management oversight. Reforming procurement, collecting all insurance fees and giving real power to the VA IG and IG's system wide, will be a victory for better government, along with making a positive difference on the deficit.