On Friday, Under Secretary Allison Hickey stepped down just prior to a House Committee hearing, October 21, 2015. That hearing is about allegations of pay fraud by Veterans Benefits Administration executives approved by Hickey.
Late Friday afternoon, the House Committee was scrambling to figure out how to subpoena Hickey to ensure she shows up to account for the pay scandal. Lawmakers no doubt want to question Hickey over the undeserved pay incentives she approved and interference she was running for Diana Rubens and Kim Graves.
Do you have information about Rubens or Graves that includes their involvement with Hickey? Two years ago, I met with Hickey in Washington DC and gave her input. The people under Hickey were misleading her, but she obviously failed to evaluate the concern. Likewise, then Secretary Eric Shinseki also disregarded concerns that entrenched VA bureaucrats were misleading him. Now, they are both gone due to being misled by bureaucrats.
Will Bob McDonald take heed?
[easy-tweet tweet=”@deptvetaffairs What is the real story on Diana Rubens and Hickey?”]
Many may be unfamiliar with bean counter type games where nepotism allows pay incentives that are unjustifiable, but this gaming of the system goes back to at least 2007 and probably much earlier.The real story here is VA has been pushing forward to create its current electronic claims system using insurance technology since 1993. Documents in the Clinton Library are very insightful on the subject. It is highly likely that leaders like Allison Hickey refused to terminate longtime VA bureaucrats involved in VBA reforms to avoid losing institutional knowledge that only they have.
This article is intended to put a call out for information from readers. Below are some details to see what we can shake loose from the tree.
RELATED: Execs Who Received Bonuses Also Approved Them (2007)
In 2007, Kim Graves’ husband Mike Walcoff voted to give healthy bonuses to himself and his wife. Later, Walcoff went on to become the acting Under Secretary of VBA before Hickey took over. At that time, he arranged for Graves to receive a promotion to Director of VBA Eastern Area Office.
Back then, numerous VBA executives voted to award themselves huge bonuses despite failing to craft an accurate budget. It was $1.3 billion short. Some of the names back then are also resurfacing today that came back to bite Allison Hickey. Kim Graves was a director at the time and benefactor of a substantial bonus while her husband, Mike Walcoff, voted on his and her bonuses that year. Apparently nothing came of the pay scandal then.
RELATED: VBA Compensation Report From Booz Allen Hamilton (2009)
Walcoff went on to become the acting under secretary for benefits in 2010 before Allison Hickey took over. Allegations have recently surfaced that Walcoff was key in his wife receiving a promotion to VBA Eastern Area for five years before she took a demotion to run St. Paul RO while taking a pay reduction.
Graves recently received $125,000 as a moving incentive to take a demotion for a position in St. Paul, MN, that she personally created.
Likewise, Diana Rubens accepted $280,000 as a moving incentive. She also created a position for her partner so they could move together. VA OIG apparently investigated the nepotism but found no wrongdoing.
Before this current scandal, Rubens was linked to a spying scheme in Philadelphia Regional Office of House Committee staffers. They also destroyed numerous Federal records related to veterans claims and blocked attempts by Congress to investigate.
Typical VA nepotism? Will the House Committee on Veterans Affairs get Allison Hickey to show up this week?
I just received her “My final love note – Thank you and God Bless!” to her employees. Regardless of how the hearing turns out, no one can question Allison Hickey’s commitment to her employees – right or wrong. Check in tomorrow when I post it for you to review and comment on…
Here is the first paragraphs, but there is a lot more to evaluate including the aggregate data claims she makes including that the backlog was reduced from 611,000 to 70,000 with very high accuracy claims. I will post the rest tomorrow:
VBA Team Members, VA Team Members and Partners,
Over the last four and a half years, I have sent you many a note acknowledging all the extraordinary efforts and results you have driven to significantly improve our delivery of benefits and services to our over 12 million Veterans, Servicemembers, their families and Survivors. In every one of these notes, there was also an ask, a call to action, for the next level of service we can and should provide.
This note–my last to you–is no different.
Check in tomorrow for the rest.