Tag Archives: investigations

Auditor ‘concerned of financial stewardship’ after review suggests $85 million improperly paid for VA disability

By SB Anderson

An inspector general’s followup review of 100% disability cases approved by the Veterans Benefits Administration found nearly 2 in 5 cases in which “veterans received almost $85 million in improper benefit payments since January 2012 because these claims lacked adequate medical evidence.”

Without further action, the audit (PDF version) said, the VBA “could continue making unsupported payments to veterans totaling about $371 million over the next 5 years.”

“We remain concerned of VBA’s financial stewardship of these claims,” Linda A. Halliday,
assistant inspector general for audits and evaluations wrote.

The VBA in a response to the audit said it disagreed with the estimate of improper payments, calling it “significantly overstated” and based on a too-small sample.

The report is embedded below.

Well done Post explainer on VA’s problems, with roots going back to its first leader

By SB Anderson

A must read: This Washington Post explainer (“How the VA developed its culture of cuver-ups“) today about the history of the problems that led to this morning’s resignation of Secretary Eric K. Shinseki.

Shinseki’s departure, the Post writes, “is unlikely to solve the VA’s broader problem — a bureaucracy that had been taught, over time, to hide its problems from Washington. Indeed, as President Obama said, one of the agency’s key failings was that bad news did not reach Shinseki’s level at all.

“This is an ironic development: Until recently, the VA had been seen as a Washington success story. In the 1990s, reformers had cut back on its middle management and started using performance data so managers at the top could keep abreast of problems at the bottom.

“Then that success began to unravel.”

The Post also recounts a major problem at the VA within its earliest days as the Veteran’s Bureau. The problem was an “audcacious crook” — the man whom President Warren Harding appointed to run the bureau.

Historians say that same man, Charles Forbes, was found with Harding’s hands wrapped around his neck after his crooked misdeeds came to light.

“You yellow rat! You double-crossing bastard!” Harding was saying, according to historians. When he noticed the visitor, he let go of Forbes’s neck.

Forbes was eventually convicted of bribery and conspiracy. But afterward, the VA’s next leaders built in layers of bureaucracy and paperwork — to be sure that nobody would ever have the same freedom to steal.

Scheduling schemes to avoid Department of Veterans Affairs’ ‘Bad Boy’s List’

By SB Anderson

The document below outlines 17 schemes the Department of Veterans Affairs declared should be avoided when scheduling patients. That was four years before the current eruption over use of these schemes to delay treating sick (and some, dying) veterans in an effort remain off of the VA’s “Bad Boy List.

(Memo via Washington Post).

A journalist in pursuit of ‘rot’ in the US nuclear defense system

By SB Anderson

Read how AP’s national security writer discovered problems in the nation’s nuclear defense system and wound up with a ‘months-long cascade of revelations’ that renewed public and legislative interest — and action.

Missile launch duty

An ICBM launch crew member at a launch control simulator used for training at F.E. Warren AFB. (PHOTO: Robert Burns)

Putting the secret in an investigation of the Secret Service

By SB Anderson

Two not-so-helpful tables from a lengthy Inspector General’s report released today that found no evidence of widespread problems with inappropriate behavior within the U.S. Secret Service.

“Although individual employees have engaged in misconduct or inappropriate behavior, we did not find evidence that misconduct is widespread in USSS,” the report (download PDF) from the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General’s office summarizes. The IG’s investigation was prompted by reports of hiring prostitutes and excessive drinking by agents on an advance team for a presidential visit to Cartagena, Colombia.

DHS Inspector General Report Redacted Table 1

DHS Inspector General Report Redacted Table 1

Washington Post summary of the report.

First step in tracking excessive force at Customs & Border Patrol? Need the right data to count

By SB Anderson

The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General has concluded its examination of use of excessive force within the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and its first recommendation: Customs and Border Patrol needs to start specifically tracking the number of excessive force allegations and cases because the inspector general’s staff wasn’t able to count them accurately with the data currently being kept.

“Allegations of employee misconduct that are entered into Department of Homeland Security (DHS) case management systems are assigned one of several case allegation types; however, there is no primary use of force designation. As a result, we were unable to identify the total number of excessive force allegations and investigations involving CBP employees,” the just-released report said.

The inspector general began investigating incidents of excessive force in 2012 after media reports about an undocumented immigrant dying in 2010 while in Customs and Border Patrol custody in Southern California. Congressional calls for an investigation followed the stories.

Some 21,000 records of possible excessive force incidents were turned over to investigators, who narrowed their review down to just over 2,000 records that seemed most likely to indicate excessive force from 2007 to 2012. It found 1,323 that might include excessive force or use of force. (See below)

Inspector General use of force investigation
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