A GAO audit shows VA is still failing to meet high-risk concerns in the area of transparency, ambiguous policy, and failure to hold employees accountable.
VA officials have expressed their commitment to address the concerns with the high-risk designation by creating a task force, working groups, and a governance structure for addressing concerns.
So what else is new? VA always points at the need for additional bureaucratic layers while evading pointing the finger inward.
VA has an ethics problem, and that ethics problem can be addressed in only a few ways; one of those ways is by embracing religion.
Could they find Jesus?
Personally, I have read the bible. Perhaps VA could save everyone some time by reading and codifying the 10 Commandments. There are a few that come to mind immediately which would save taxpayers a lot of money:
- Thou shalt not steal
- Thou shalt not bear false (no lying)
- Thou shalt not murder
I personally believe VA would do well to return to Christian roots like these while addressing the problems we continually see from the agency.
Basically, do not lie, cheat or steal. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Or better, treat others as you would like your grandmother to be treated.
Please make a point to read the whole report. I posted the “What We Found” section here for readers in a hurry. The full report is a whopping 684 pages. Let me know what you find.
GOA High-Risk Audit – What They Found
Overall, VA has partially met the criteria for leadership commitment and an action plan to address the five areas of concern we identified when we placed VA health care on our High-Risk List in 2015. These five areas of concern are: (1) ambiguous policies and inconsistent processes; (2) inadequate oversight and accountability; (3) information technology (IT) challenges; (4) inadequate training for VA staff; and (5) unclear resource needs and allocation priorities. VA has not met the other criteria for removal: capacity to address the areas of concern, monitoring implementation of corrective actions, and demonstrating progress.
Although we concluded in our overall assessment that VA’s actions partially met two of our five criteria for removal from the High-Risk List, it is worth noting that the department made significantly less progress in addressing the action plan criterion than it has in demonstrating leadership commitment. Specifically, VA partially met the action plan criterion for only one of the five areas of concern—ambiguous policies and inconsistent processes—whereas VA partially met the leadership commitment criterion for four out of five areas of concern (VA did not meet the leadership commitment criterion for inadequate training for VA staff). The department must make significant progress on the action plan criterion for all five areas of concern we identified in order to meet this criterion for removal from our High-Risk List.
VA officials have expressed their commitment to addressing the department’s High-Risk List designation, and have taken actions such as establishing a task force, working groups, and a governance structure for addressing the issues contributing to the designation. For example, in July 2016, VA chartered the GAO High-Risk List Area Task Force for Managing Risk and Improving VA Health Care (task force) to develop and oversee implementation of VA’s plan to address the root causes of the five areas of concern we identified. VHA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Health (USH) for Organizational Excellence serves as the executive agent for the task force, with support from a combination of permanent and temporary staff. This senior VHA position was created in 2015 and is responsible for overseeing offices focused on assessing and improving health care quality and safety, providing VA leadership with analytics to assess VHA’s performance, and addressing issues related to public trust and integrity. For each of the five areas of concern we identified, VA has established a working group with two senior-level VA officials as leaders. These workgroups and officials are responsible for developing and executing VA’s high-risk mitigation plan for each of our five areas of concern.
VA has also contracted with two entities to support VA’s actions to address the high-risk designation. The first contract—with a Federally Funded Research and Development Center operated by the MITRE Corporation—is focused on (1) developing and executing an action plan, (2) creating a plan to enhance VA’s capacity to manage High-Risk List areas, and (3) recommending changes to the organizational structure VA set up to address the high-risk designation. The total contract value is $5.2 million, with an 8-month performance period that began on June 20, 2016 and 1 option year. The second contract—with Atlas Research, LLC—is for project management staff who will help establish a program executive office within the office of the VHA Deputy USH for Organizational Excellence, and assist with establishing the management functions necessary to oversee the five high-risk area working groups. The total contract value is $2.6 million, with a 1-year performance period that began on September 9, 2016 and the option to extend services for up to 6 additional months.
Since we added VA health care to our High-Risk List in 2015, VA’s leadership has increased its focus on implementing our recommendations. Between January 2010 and February 2015 (when we designated VA health care as a high-risk area), we issued products containing 178 recommendations related to VA health care. When we made our designation in 2015, the department had only implemented about 22 percent of them—39 of the 178 recommendations. In the last 2 years, VA has made good progress, but additional work is needed. Since we designated VA health care as a high-risk area, we have made 66 new recommendations related to VA health care, for a total of 244 recommendations from January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2016. VA has implemented about 50 percent of the recommendations we have made since 2010—122 of the 244 recommendations. (See table 9.) It is critical that VA implement our recommendations not only to remedy the specific weaknesses identified, but because they may be symptomatic of larger underlying problems that also need to be addressed.
If you were a VA boss, which religion would be the best to solve VA’s problems?