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Corruption, $24M Bonuses Found At VA

From a seemingly surprised Associated Press:

As vets await checks, VA workers get $24M bonuses

By KIMBERLY HEFLING

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21, 2009

(AP)  Outside the Veterans Affairs Department, severely wounded veterans have faced financial hardship waiting for their first disability payment. Inside, money has been flowing in the form of $24 million in bonuses.

In scathing reports this week, the VA’s inspector general said thousands of technology office employees at the VA received the bonuses over a two-year period, some under questionable circumstances. It also detailed abuses ranging from nepotism to an inappropriate relationship between two VA employees.

The inspector general accused one recently retired VA official of acting "as if she was given a blank checkbook" as awards and bonuses were distributed to employees of the Office of Information and Technology in 2007 and 2008. In some cases the justification for the bonuses was inadequate or questionable, the IG said.

The official, Jennifer S. Duncan, also engaged in nepotism and got $60,000 in bonuses herself, the IG said. In addition, managers improperly authorized college tuition payments for VA employees, some of whom were Duncan’s family members and friends. That cost taxpayers nearly $140,000.

Separately, a technology office employee became involved in an "inappropriate personal relationship" with a high-level VA official. The technology office employee flew 22 times from Florida to Washington, where the VA official lived. That travel cost $37,000.

The details on the alleged improprieties were in two IG reports issued this week. VA spokeswoman Katie Roberts said the agency was extremely concerned about the IG’s findings and would pursue a thorough review…

Much of the IG’s focus was on Duncan, the former executive assistant to the ex-assistant secretary for information and technology, Robert Howard…

In addition to Duncan, three other high-level employees received $73,000, $58,000 and $59,000 in bonuses in 2007 and 2008, the IG said. In 2007 alone, 4,700 employees were awarded bonuses, on average $2,500 each.

Some employees were given cash awards for services that were supposedly provided before the employees started working at VA, the IG said

The IG also found that Katherine Adair Martinez, deputy assistant secretary for information protection and risk management in the Office of Information and Technology, misused her position, abused her authority and engaged in prohibited personnel practices when she influenced a VA contractor and later VA subordinates to employ a friend.

The IG also said Martinez "took advantage of an inappropriate personal relationship" with Howard to transfer her job to Florida. In the nine months after she moved, the IG said Martinez traveled to Washington 22 times "to accomplish tasks that she could easily do from Florida."

The relationship between Martinez and Howard started in April 2007 and continued several months after Howard left the VA in January of this year, the IG said…

The VA has faced criticism before in its awarding of bonuses. In 2007, the AP reported that the then-VA secretary had approved a generous package of more than $3.8 million in bonus payments in 2006, citing a need to retain longtime VA executives.

Remember, Obama-care is really just the Veterans Administration’s healthcare system writ large.

So we might be a little skeptical at all of the claims of how healthcare reform will cut costs by eliminating fraud and corruption.

And speaking of reforms, hasn’t Mr. Obama made getting rid of excessive bonus packages a hallmark of his administration?

In 2007, the AP reported that the then-VA secretary had approved a generous package of more than $3.8 million in bonus payments in 2006, citing a need to retain longtime VA executives

It sounds like it’s time to put the VA under Mr. Obama’s Pay Czar, too.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, August 21st, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

8 Responses to “Corruption, $24M Bonuses Found At VA”

  1. canary says:

    AP: IG: Millions in bonuses paid to VA employees
    By Associated Press Writer Kimberly Hefling Thu Aug 20, 2009

    WASHINGTON – Thousands of technology office employees at the Veterans Affairs Department received a total of $24 million in bonuses over a two-year period, some under questionable circumstances, the agency’s inspector general said in scathing reports that also

    The inspector general accused one recently retired VA official of acting “as if she was given a blank checkbook”

    The official, Jennifer S. Duncan, also engaged in nepotism and got $60,000 in bonuses herself, the IG said. In addition, managers improperly authorized college tuition payments for VA employees,

    some of whom were Duncan’s family members and friends. That cost taxpayers nearly $140,000.

    Separately, a technology office employee became involved in an “inappropriate personal relationship” with a high-level VA official.

    The technology office employee flew 22 times from Florida to Washington, where the VA official lived. That travel cost $37,000.

    In one situation, a part-time intern with connections to Duncan was allowed to convert to a full-time paid position even though the individual was working a part-time schedule 500 miles away at college, the IG said.

    “We have never known of any other new VA employee provided such favorable treatment,” the IG said.

    Investigators recommended that the employees who received the college money pay it back. The largest amount awarded was $33,000.

    Some employees were given cash awards for services that were supposedly provided before the employees started working at VA,

    The IG also found that Katherine Adair Martinez, deputy assistant secretary for information protection and risk management in the Office of Information and Technology,.. abused her authority

    The IG also said Martinez “took advantage of an inappropriate personal relationship” with Howard to transfer her job to Florida. In the nine months after she moved, the IG said Martinez traveled to Washington 22 times “to accomplish tasks that she could easily do from Florida.”

    Reports from VA Inspector General:
    http://www.va.gov/oig/51/fy2009rpts/VAOIG-09-01123-196.pdf
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090820/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_veterans_bonuses

    Example of the VA screwing our soldiers. Government health-care for ya.

  2. curvyred says:

    Reminds me of this Pittsburgh story in which VETS did not receive payments so that the unionized clerical workers could receive their “bonuses”

    Congress people ask for probe after disabled vets did not receive their payments so that 120 employees could receive $300 bonuses each.

    “The incident is documented in a May 12 report from the VA Inspector General’s Office. The document verifies that at least 10 veterans’ claims were held up so that about 120 employees could receive $300 bonuses.”

    http://www.vawatchdog.org/09/nf09/nfmay09/nf052309-1.htm

    Now it appears to be a systemic problem.

    And oh uh I hope we do not see another IG go under the bus for doing their job.

  3. proreason says:

    Corruption in a government run agency?

    Surely this is a misprint.

    Obamy has told us so many times that the government is many times more trustworthy than private business (which typically go out-of-business when the public finds out about corruption).

    But with a man as honest as The Moron in charge of running everything now, this report is doubtless the last we will ever see about corruption in the government.

  4. Liberals Demise says:

    I have been calling for all here and the Dimwit lurkers to look at the VA Hospitals as to what Obama No Care will look like.
    Is there any wonder why they offer “End of Life” policies to the Vets first?
    ANSWER : Because we won’t release the weapons from our hands so easily and we are used to Uncle Sugar putting the screws to us!!

    What an utter disgrace……….That a Socialist Traitor and family sleep in the White House while Veterans sleep on the streets!

  5. Right of the People says:

    Corrupt gubmint agency? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

  6. Yarddog1 says:

    Jail – Make examples every damned corupt official and this sh!! would stop. But wait, the foxes are in charge of the henhouse and protect each other – like Slimeball Dodd. I really wonder if there’s any way to reclaim justice at this point.

  7. VMAN says:

    I’m guessing that this IG will be the next to go. Can’t have the O Hole’s constituents going without.

  8. catie says:

    And these people want to run health care for everyone but themselves.
    OT: Anyone see First Lady AKA thunder thighs today? Generally I would not make fun of another woman as I have always struggled with my weight and my thighs but she really thinks she’s a runway model. Did you noticed her mother also got a makeover as well? I saw somewhere where people were saying she looked “like a homeless person from Detroit” while in Roma, Italia.
    Just being my snarky self Kooky Kos Kids


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