Time For Veterans To Audit VA OIG?

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Audit VA OIG

Benjamin KrauseLast week’s white wash by VA OIG of problems at Tomah VA Medical Center may push independent veterans activists to audit VA OIG and its questionable investigation reports.

In Tomah, VA OIG is apparently white washing the Tomah VA scandals and in response, I think it is time us veterans push back by auditing VA OIG independently using some resources I found last week. Veterans need to conduct our own audit of VA OIG using tools from the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency on IGNET.

Let me explain how this might be a good first step and certainly become a thorn in the side of VA OIG Healthcare Inspections head and West Point alumni John Daigh, MD.

READ: IG Audit Manuals

In the not too distant past, VA OIG loaded the deck while investigating deaths of veterans in Phoenix. The standard they used was “conclusive” during that investigation. However, conclusive evidence of anything is generally an all too high of a bar to reach. Further, VA OIG was caught manipulating its report at the request of Sloan Gibson.

But does this “conclusive” standard mean the party is innocent if there is no “conclusive” evidence?

Generally, to win your disability claim, the veteran’s evidence must support their claim to where it is at least as likely as not that the incident occurred or is linked to military services. In civil court for malpractice, the bar for guilt is a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). For criminal law, the bar for guilt is beyond a reasonable doubt, which is somewhat higher.

For VA OIG, they use standards like “conclusive” and “substantiation” but how are these criteria defined and interpreted?

VA OIG critiqued politicians for daring to challenge the white wash result of their investigations. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) called out the supposed “watchdog” for failing to explain the criteria it uses to “substantiate” the claims:

“What are the standards for substantiation? What does it take?” Johnson said. “Or is this just somebody (who) creates his own standards, and if that’s the case, that’s way too loose a standard, because if you don’t want to hold anybody accountable, it’s pretty easy to just write, ‘couldn’t substantiate that charge.’ I’ve got a great deal of concerns with this inspector general.

VA OIG retorted:

“While Senator Johnson is entitled to his personal opinion, he is not a medical expert and has not identified any facts or medical literature to refute our findings and conclusions.”

But does someone need to be a medical expert to find fault? No way. In courts across the country, doctors and hospitals are continually held accountable by judges and juries. Most of the individuals passing judgment are not doctors.

While medical testimony can be useful when evaluating the standard of care in certain situations, most of the standards of care are so well documented that anyone who can read can tell if there existed a deviation for most standards of care.

For example, with stroke victims, there are certain tests that should be performed to ensure the source of the stroke can be confirmed to help with the rehabilitation process. If a person suffers a cardioembolic stroke, the use of a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is the “gold standard” to confirm the cause of the stroke.

READ: Prevention of Cardioembolic Stroke from Mayo Clinic

If a doctor uses a different exam that is less than the gold standard without explaining why, it could be a deviation. I do not need to be a doctor to know that, because I can read a Mayo Clinic medical journal explaining as much.

About its investigations, VA OIG claims its conclusions are always supported by the expert judgment of OIG board certified physicians. But is this true? What are the actual guidelines for “substantiation”? This means all allegations must be “substantiated”… But how does one determine if something is substantiated? Does that mean VA officials must agree that something occurred?

VA’s Richard Griffin claims his VA OIG uses the same criteria used by other Inspector Generals within the Federal government. However, we do not know if such claim is true and even if it is true, should VA OIG be using the same standards? Perhaps the evidence of the current scope of the wait-list scandal should indicate VA OIG is failing taxpayers.

In response to these questions, I started looking into ways to ensure VA OIG is on the level with other Inspector General agency watchdogs and found a potential solution. I think veterans need to stand up and start auditing VA OIG.

The manuals here are a good start to developing a framework within which veterans can begin to audit VA OIG reports. I promise you we will begin to uncover discrepancies in methodology, but the biggest hindrance will be ensuring the accuracy of the facts VA OIG claims within its own white wash reports.

Are you in?

Source: https://www.ignet.gov/content/manuals-guides

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41 Comments

  1. Hello Ben,

    I have done that, here is a little excerpt from how they replied. The person who answered the phone stated they were a training institute. Congress has the ability to make this request but I am sure with that last Oversight hearing about IG Intefrity they seemed either disinterested or clueless.

    This is the reply I recieved from CIGIE
    We are in receipt of your email below.

    This is to inform you that the Council’s mission is to address integrity, economy and effectiveness issues that transcend Federal government agencies; and increase professionalism and effectiveness of personnel by developing policies, standards and approaches to aid in the establishment of the well trained and highly skilled work force in the offices of Inspectors General.

    The Council does have a legislated Committee, the Integrity Committee, that receives, reviews and refers for investigation allegations of wrongdoing that are made against Inspectors General (IG) or staff members that report directly to an IG or are designated by the IG to be covered by this Committee’s mandate. If you believe the subjects of your allegations are covered by the Integrity Committee you can submit that information directly to this Committee at [email protected] or by mail at:

    Council of the Inspectors General on
    Integrity and Efficiency
    Integrity Committee

    Once I deal with the VA directly regarding the issues I am working on, I will find out from a source who submitted a public complaint regarding “lack of candor” in multiple Congressional hearings

    Signed your friendly neighborhood Corpsman

  2. I do not logically think it would be possible to do in such a system that is entrenched in the “Fox Guarding The Hen House”…very much like the Freedom Of Information Act…it highly depends on the authenticity of all documents, and documents that have not been “blacked-out” or simply removed and shredded by the very VA.

    However, I agree with today’s content that one does NOT need to be a “Medical Expert”, to determine such things as Clear and Unmistakable Error/Evidence. You do not need a Ph.D./M.D. to simply join ‘A’ to ‘B’ to ‘C’ to determine that wait lists indeed caused ad/or accelerated the deaths of MANY Veterans and that’s just at Phoenix VA.

    I also am hesitant about the VA being trusted with appointing such Veterans to police the VA OIG because JUST LIKE so-called “Expert Medical Witnesses/Opinions” in the Legal System, they ALL CAN BE BOUGHT, and the VA would simply use the likes of West Point types like Lt. Col. Gade whom already have their minds made-up or paid off to think certain way…we would be in the same state we are in with the so-called VSO’s Groups, that seems to be more bedfellows with the VA than any Veteran Advocacy, no, I agree with ‘Norman Rosencrans’ post below, that the VA is already SO FILLED with corrupt, money-motivated employees at ALL Levels, we simply need the VA to have a FULL ENEMA, and give these jobs to Veterans, and again, not West Point types, that definitely do not have Veteran’s best interest at heart.

    Also, when you have a President/Executive Branch that is being fed “rainbows being blown up his ass” by likes of Sloan Gibson…where yesterday’s topic about him pushing to RAID the $$$ for the Choice Program…well, I think you can see where I am going with this….there’s way too many TURDS in the VA System already…it requires a FULL ENEMA and SEVERAL FLUSHES to get the ugly out.

    The VA OIG should NOT be appointed by the Executive Branch, at all. This Fox Guarding The Henhouse at the VA is that festering ugly that will not flush down the toilet called the VA and until HUGE changes take place, do not see this ever changing.

    These VA OIG whitewashing reports is SO typical of the likes of how the Insurance Companies have discounted actual boots on the ground certified building inspectors and made their OWN changes, in order to NOT PAY for the very flood damage that the people that never missed paying a premium had…while these insurance co.’s made sure to leave the original signature of the building inspectors in-place, just as the VA OIG manipulates the data and makes the VA Whistleblowers look like dust in the wind.
    We have a serious quagmire on our door steps. But do not stomp out that bag on fire on door step because it’s FULL OF CRAP!

    • FYI–I was referring to how the Insurance Co.’s have screwed SO MANY Hurricane Sandy homeowners…perfect analogy of how a flawed system shows it’s corruption and ugly when it means the LIFE of a Veteran is weighed against a boardroom full of VA Attorney’s and Administrators, and the 1% that use their $$$$$ to dictate what is done in D.C.
      In this case, with the Tomah VA, the VA OIG has essentially DISCOUNTED THE INTEGRITY OF EVERY VA WHISTLEBLOWER BY OUTRIGHT LYING AND PROTECTING THE VA….definitely NOT VETERANS.

    • You are so right, Namnibor. EVERYONE HAS A PRICE!
      I do not see the VA-OIG ever being dismantled and/or standing beside a “whistleblower” to correct the situations in the VA. No matter how much irrefutable evidence is brought forth.
      Ben is correct in one way. It’s going to take the Veterans and Taxpayers to correct this wrong!!!!! The sooner it starts, the sooner it is corrected!
      That’s my opinion, folks!

  3. “Another West Point alumni, John Daigh, md.”!
    How many ‘West Pointers’ work for the VA and/or other VA (lap dog) organization? In my opinion, it seems they forgot what is “written in stone” throughout that prestigious ‘campus’. You know, don’t lie or steal or associate with anyone who does! I’m paraphrasing of course.
    I’ve read somewhere, or saw it on the news, a vet at Toma VAMC was receiving “over 800 (opioid) pills each month.” Come on VA-OIG, get real, no one- I REPEAT -NO ONE could use that many in a month….WITHOUT DYING! Let see, if one devides 30 into 800 that equals 26.6 pills each day. No way that would be an acceptable prescription by any physician… Or, in the least, a reputable physician!
    Question, who’s going to lead this charge against the VA-OIG?

    • I blew the whistle on Tomah and also John Daigh. I am also a West Point grad. Actually hardly any West Point grads work for the VA and I lasted 8 weeks and left instead of compromising my integrity. John Daigh is a shameful outlier.

      • Ryan, thank you for being an upstanding person. Who was not willing to compromise the values you held at West Point or in the military. Very few forget the “OATHS” they took.
        I had many years in the military (two branches). I remember the many oaths I took.
        Btw, My wife and I just finished watching,
        Truth Tellers of the Past: George Carlin – You Tube.
        Great show compilation. He could really tell it like it is!!!!!

      • I didn’t mean “very few forget the oaths they took”. I should have said, “MANY FORGET THE OATHS THEY TOOK!”

  4. As a former VA employee, I was going to write a lengthly response about the OIG/VA in the same bed. I first read some of the previous responses. Now, I feel less compelled to write as those comments cover the topic. Good job guys! We all know that much needs to be improved at the VA.
    I can tell you that VA administrators express fear when an OIG team shows up. I can also tell you that these administrators generally know or have met members of the OIG team.

    • Tom, good to hear from a “former (government) employee”. Thank you for the support. I only want to say, I don’t believe the administrators are as fearful, as you say, when the OIG shows up. Because, they seem to be “in bed” together.
      Unless you know something we on here don’t know, please enlighten us. I, myself, am very curious as to any knowledge which would help!
      Thank You Again

    • I would think the fear is only there because they cannot be in full control over how much is uncovered, and how much the IG is willing to look the other way and cover up.

      They certainly seem to want to cover up a hell of a lot nowadays. Almost as if they have an incentive from someone other than McDonald to keep their eyes closed.
      I think Obama firing Gerald Walpin at HUD, Neil Barofsky overseeing stimulus spending and Judith Gwynne at the ITC set the tone for other IGs to not air dirty laundry.

  5. On Fox 35 [email protected] 8 am, Ms. Sorrells wrote, the “hacking of Government employees is (4) four times worse than originally thought.”
    1.) I wonder “WHO” hacked the computers? Our government first accused China! Then tried to down play the ‘accusations’.
    2.a) “WHAT” is going to be done with the info?
    2.b) “When” will the ‘hackers’ strike against the government employees?
    3.) I hope the info obtained was of the VA, VA-OIG and other government employees. So their lives can be turned upside down. As they have done to many veterans, spouses of veterans and “taxpayers”!

    • I can see a scenario where the VA simply can state, “We were hacked and ALL Veteran Claim Files have been lost…POOF~!”
      Just as “convenient warehouse fires” have destroyed countless Veteran’s paper files…so yes, I can see the VA using this recent or any future hacking, real or fabricated, to NOT help Veterans and re-allocate that $$$ to their bidding.

      How is the VA OIG any different than likes of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme or the way the VA outright steals $$$ allocated for Suicide Prevention or the Choice Card Program…this is outright criminal!

      Maybe it’s time for the VA to be formally brought up for charges for crimes against humanity (Veterans/Spouses)?

    • If you do a net search using “OPM root access”, you will find a number of news items on blogs about OPM outsourcing systems administration to someone in Argentina, and his co-worker in China. Both had root access to OPM systems. For those unfamiliar with IT systems, this means they had unlimited privileges to access anything they wanted on that system, including creating their own accounts for themselves and others, or allowing remote access. I cannot fathom the absolute lunacy of any government official doing that without them doing some serious prison time, particularly when you find out the breach includes systems that held records for background checks. This is like the CIA putting a database of covert agents on the public internet, then advertising on Google’s front page that anyone can have unlimited access like their favorite porn site. I also question why only blogs have covered this root access problem and not the rest of the media, other than it makes the administration look extremely stupid…or that someone did this intentionally. Hell most people keep their Netflix accounts more secure.
      What will be done with the info? Well, the more juicy info such as background check information for those with security clearances will be used to blackmail those people, compromise their security or traded to other foreign Intel services. Those with lesser information like your favorite VA flunky may have their info traded to other nations or criminals or hackers. Not to worry though. Uncle is moving fast to provide credit monitoring and ID theft protection to those they deem necessary, all at the expense of you the taxpayer.
      How much did they save by outsourcing to those two?
      Oh, and on the same day they announced this breach, the OPM director tweeted how they were kicking off pride month for the LGBLT crowd.
      When will they strike? It may not matter. Can someone with a clearance in a sensitive position overseas be risked by doing nothing? What protection for them are they providing? Other than free credit monitoring?
      Not to worry. I’m sure your electronic VA medical records are as secure as your ObamaCare records are as secure as your security clearance background check if you had a clearance in the last 10 years.

  6. I would suggest every veteran sign up for the VAOIG reports which are sent by email. Go to the VA OIG page and there is a sign up for emails. However, it is for educational purposes only as I will explain.

    Once you start reading them you readily see the pattern of either “not substantiating” whistle blower complaints or “finding areas to make improvements.” The consistancy of covering up is apparent to a 5th grader. Also, it appears the IG is in an adversarial role to not only Veterans but, also Congressional Committees. All the while voluminous amounts of propaganda is spewed through their Information and Technology apparatus.

    When I have discussed IG findings with VA doctors, they are oblivious (or, so they tell me) of the issues within the VA – even at their own facility.

    Humpty Dumpty is broken, and all the King’s men (the administration) and all the King’s horses (the Congress) can’t put Humpty Dumpty together again. The VA is broken beyond repair… there really is no hope anything will change. Sure, we may win a minor battle but, in the end, the bureaucracy will prevail.

    • I find your remark, ” Consistency of covering up is apparent to a 5th grader”, quite genuine.
      I found the Financial Documents,i.e., spending allications for a VAMC so blatantly filled with entries that could be solved with fourth grade arithmetic to reveal financial black holes.
      I did enlist a Business School colleague, an Assistant Comptroller for a County with a budget of 12 billion, that confirmed my suspicions and pretty much labelled it as cartoonish.
      No wonder, they want to dumb down Americans with Common Core. No STEM ( (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skillsets

  7. You don’t have to be a physician to know that “substantiation” is not even a medical diagnostic concept. The VA can pay their whores to give biased, randomly incompetent medical opinions against the veteran. But, that is why we vets are allowed to get outside second opinions, that, receive the same weight as an internal VA opinion.

  8. Ben, you bring up an excellent point. While we are at it, how about auditing the entire VA budget?! This has been done by giant CPA firms like Price-Waterhouse and others. It has been done to banks, car manufacturers, and other mega corporations relative to government bail outs. A good audit would show who exactly is stealing billions from the VA budget and whose bank accounts it is going into. Also, it would uncover the VA bonus system (to shaft vets out of earned benefits) that went underground recently but we all know still exists.

  9. Hello Ben,

    I have done that, here is a little excerpt from how they replied. The person who answered the phone stated they were a training institute. Congress has the ability to make this request but I am sure with that last Oversight hearing about IG Intefrity they seemed either disinterested or clueless.

    This is the reply I recieved from CIGIE
    We are in receipt of your email below.

    This is to inform you that the Council’s mission is to address integrity, economy and effectiveness issues that transcend Federal government agencies; and increase professionalism and effectiveness of personnel by developing policies, standards and approaches to aid in the establishment of the well trained and highly skilled work force in the offices of Inspectors General.

    The Council does have a legislated Committee, the Integrity Committee, that receives, reviews and refers for investigation allegations of wrongdoing that are made against Inspectors General (IG) or staff members that report directly to an IG or are designated by the IG to be covered by this Committee’s mandate. If you believe the subjects of your allegations are covered by the Integrity Committee you can submit that information directly to this Committee by mail at:

    Council of the Inspectors General on
    Integrity and Efficiency
    Integrity Committee

    • Sounds like more Governmental ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’ and then nothing gets done! That’s my opinion.

  10. Good article Ben. I always knew there was some kind of body like IGNET for IG’s, but kind of thought it was like a good ol boys club. At least that is how it’s been acting over the past 6+ years.
    It would be interesting to see what they would do if civilians started ripping apart VA IG reports. Would the VAIG finally relent and ask their club for help in improving their standards? I think that depends on the money at stake, and whose ass needs covering the most.

  11. Load up the trucks with the dogs and the Lysol!

    Tell Ma’ we won’t be home in time for vittles!

  12. How many times do I have to say it? The VA can NOT be trusted to police itself, and this extends to the OIG!

    Who polices the police? Some Congress members are trying, but, at the end of the day, the status quo prevails.

    If there’s any way it is possible to audit the OIG, I’d love nothing better. Let me know what I can do and I’m there. I can’t imagine, though, that the VA OIG is just going to open its doors (and its files) up to scrutiny from any group without being forced to by a federal court.

    • I’m in complete agreement with you Stephen.

      I also will do what I can to help!

      To anyone, give suggestions on here to start the ball rolling.

  13. I typed the following
    YOU TUBE/VETERANS ADMINISTRATION NEGATIVE PRESS
    in my computer. I got a bunch of stories concerning this issue. I want y’all to look up this site. You will be amazed as to what you find. It has lots of videos also. One where a vet was “harassed by VA police” in the NJ, VAMC’s parking lot. The cops told him he could not video tape because he was on a military base- a complete bald faced LIE!! The three cops end up just walking away. Great video!
    This site so has the Military Times article concerning this blog that Ben put on today….Check it out!

    • Funny how the VA often tries to pull that “this is a military/gov’t installation so you cannot tape trick”…ONLY IF the VA were REQUIRED to be under the rule of law of the UCMJ….then and perhaps only then would we see true standardization and people FEARING PRISON TIME.
      I actually would rather the VA be completely under the auspices of the UCMJ, it at least would be more enforceable than the VA OIG…something to think about. The military branches for the most part, run well-oiled, tight operations…but then I also realize the very VA has the capability of completely RUINING the very integrity of the UCMJ as well…the VA seems like a festering infectious disease that instantly corrupts and often even eats their own…so no, I think we should keep the UCMJ away from the VA’s talons.
      Yes, on You Tube you can find a lot. Just do a search that is relative to what I have gone through in my military and VA experience: type in a search on “veteran hospitals infecting veterans with HIV, Hep A, B, C”…that should make you more than enraged to disrupt a few night’s sleep for starters.
      Yes, You Tube is pretty popular and powerful tool. I do not nor ever will use likes of Facebook because I value my privacy and I have had this position about it ever since it was launched and even predicted all the social issues we are seeing as far as the negative side of “too much information and writing off one’s privacy”…the VA has also been known to use the USE OF likes of Facebook as FALSE evidence that a given Vet does not have anxiety or PTSD issues…look that up as well!
      We are in a true “Pickle”, as my grandfather used to say, a WWII and Korean War Pilot Veteran, rest his soul.

      • According to my remembrances, and holding a “top secret crypo clearance” (army) and a “top secret clearance ” (navy), as long as NO “security” is being breeched, ie; ‘compounds’ that hold items of secrecy, example; nuclear facilities, military hardware under research and development, etc. etc. etc. Then it IS perfectly legal to record. In Florida, if a person is being recorded, he/she must state, “I do not want to be recorded.” If nothing is said then the recording IS LEGAL!
        Also, since the parking lot, even if on a Federal reserve, is where the recording took place, one will have to expect less privacy. They, va police, are subcontracted from local law enforcement. Therefore they do not have the same authority as do federal marshals. They legally cannot put their hands on anyone, they can only escort a person off federal lands where local law officers can detain, arrest or trespass an individual. I learned this from the “head” of the “lake Baldwin VAMC” last year. When Gov. Scott, with local news reporters tried to gain access to that “federal” building…

  14. I get the feeling that I am receiving low-quality health care from the VA, especially when I go to an eye specialist who is a resident—who has limited experience. With my limited medical knowledge, I always review what the VA doctors tell me and do not follow most of their recommendations. In any case I believe that the best patient is a knowledgeable patient. However, I believe that the VA does not want to spend time to intelligently address their patient’s questions. How many others believe that we may be getting short-changed by what the VA claims is world-class medical treatment? Unfortunately, most veterans just follow what they are told by the VA, and do not take the time to be their own advocates.

  15. Something I’ve noticed for some time about many VA employees. They “claim” to be veterans. Only, when I get deeper in the conversation, I find they, to my surprise, AREN’T!
    Do they think we true veterans won’t be able to figure out they are bald-faced liars? Do they think this makes them ‘special’?
    In my opinion, it only reinforces the fact they are not fit to help veterans!

  16. Personally, I think it’s time for an agency similar to the OIG, But OUTSIDE the VA…with full subpoena powers and unlimited access to investigate ANY matter brought before them…Full results to be released to the public and congress IMMEDIATELY…All persons under investigation suspended WITHOUT PAY until complete…

    • I think most of us would like that “outside OIG”, but with a truly honest check and balances system, that would mean ALOT of Congressmen and woman would be behind bars as well by now had we such a system…the corruption is that deep.

      Why for instance, does not Rep. Miller and Lindsay Graham lay the law of the land on them from the very Congressional Veterans Committee? Why is not Senator McCain more vested and outraged in his fellow Veterans being treated so poorly and the state of health of the VA being as it is?
      He is a veteran, a decorated war hero, a Senator, and has a lot of influence. The only time he wants his fellow veteran’s attention is around each election time…fact! Sorry, but in all due respect to Sen. McCain and his military record, I have lost respect for such people that are NOT using their power to improve things…what does he care anyway? He married into the Budweiser Family. Receives his 100%. Is vested to eternity in Congressional benefits…yet his fellow veterans are needing people of such influence…now!?
      Sorry, but these are questions that nobody seems to be asking…why exactly has the VA been ALLOWED to become immune and above the LAW?

  17. Yes I think it is time to audit the V.A. it is long overdue, and in the meantime our veterans are suffering tremendous hardships along with their families that shouldn’t happen, By all means; AUDIT!!! them immediately

    Yours for God and Country
    Frank P Calderon

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