06.25.15

Bipartisan Group of Senators Call on President Obama to Take Action on VA Inspector General

“Permanent leadership of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General is long overdue”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a bipartisan group of United States Senators, led by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), sent a letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to nominate an Inspector General (IG) for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as soon as possible to help rebuild the trust that was lost “through systematic failures in accountability and transparency” at the Department. In addition to Senator Baldwin, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Jon Tester (D-MT).

“It is imperative that you nominate a permanent IG for the VA to provide stable leadership and oversight of the agency.  Over the past two years, the VA has faced well-documented challenges, including the failure to provide timely health care nationwide.  A permanent IG would help to address these failures and would play a critical role in auditing and evaluating VA programs, conducting health care inspections and investigating allegations of serious violations of policies and procedures by high-ranking members of the Department,” the Senators wrote. 

The former Inspector General (IG) for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) left the position in late 2013 and Mr. Richard Griffin assumed the IG duties at the department.  However, he is not serving in a permanent capacity.  The absence of a permanent IG at the department has raised concerns about shortcomings in accountability and transparency at the VA. 

The Senators wrote to President Obama, “Providing adequate programs and services for our nation’s veterans is a one of our greatest responsibilities.  We hope that you will ensure consistent management and accountability at VA by nominating a permanent IG as soon as possible.”

Full text of the letter below:

The President

The White House

Washington, D.C. 2050

Dear Mr. President:

We write to urge you to nominate an Inspector General (IG) for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as soon as possible to help rebuild the trust that was lost through systemic failures in accountability and transparency at the Department. 

On June 3, 2015, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing entitled Watchdogs Needed: Top Government Investigator Positions Left Unfilled for Years.  At the hearing, a number of Senators expressed concerns about the vacant VA IG position and multiple Senators have written to you in the past urging you to nominate a permanent Inspector General for the VA.  As you know, the former IG left the position in late 2013 and Mr. Richard Griffin assumed the IG duties at the agency.  However, he is not serving in a permanent capacity.  Simply put: permanent leadership of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General is long overdue.

At the hearing, several witnesses stressed that IGs nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate are viewed as more independent by members of Congress and the public than acting IGs.  The witnesses also stated that permanent IGs are more likely to address long-term and sometimes embarrassing issues at the agency.

It is imperative that you nominate a permanent IG for the VA to provide stable leadership and oversight of the agency.  Over the past two years, the VA has faced well-documented challenges, including the failure to provide timely health care nationwide.  A permanent IG would help to address these failures and would play a critical role in auditing and evaluating VA programs, conducting health care inspections and investigating allegations of serious violations of policies and procedures by high-ranking members of the Department. 

Providing adequate programs and services for our nation’s veterans is one of our greatest responsibilities.  We hope that you will ensure consistent management and accountability at VA by nominating a permanent IG as soon as possible.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. 

Respectfully,