Audit: VA Spends $1.9 Billion On Annual Research, Earns Only $316k In Royalties
A new GAO report shows VA is investing $1.9 billion annually on research but is only earning $316,000 in royalties and licensure. Research universities failed to inform VA 75 percent of the time about research resulting in commercialized patents and related products wherein the agency could earn more revenue.
In 2000, the Department of Veterans Affairs created a VA Technology Transfer Program with 79 universities to negotiate following earlier breakthroughs like the development of the pacemaker and CT scan machines. The transfer program allowed the agency to transfer ownership of research to the private sector in exchange for royalties and license fees.
Under the agreements, research universities take the lead on patenting and commercialization while VA retains joint ownership of the invention. Participating universities would have right of first refusal to apply for and managed patents, market the technologies, negotiate licenses and collect royalties to be shared with VA.
Per the report:
Today VA oversees a research program that spends $1.9 billion annually and employs more than 3,000 researchers focused on health issues such as cancer, diabetes, traumatic brain injury, and other conditions affecting veterans. In fiscal year 2016, VA patents from such research resulted in 45 licenses providing the agency about $316,000 in royalties, according to VA officials.
Remember Schinazi Hep C Cure?
Some of you may remember Raymond Shinazi, a VA pharma doctor who simultaneously founded a company called Pharmasset while also leading a VA team to work on cures for conditions like hepatitis C… while he also enjoyed an Emory University appointment.
Shinazi broke headlines a couple years ago when he sold his company Pharmasset and its inventions to Gilead, a massive pharmaceutical company. That firm then marketed the hep C cure back to VA on a discount, if you can call it that, charging only around $500 per pill.
When interviewed by CBS, Shinazi unapologetically explained his massive windfall and explained away any potential conflict of interest or agency ownership in the invention by asserting he worked at his company that owned the patent of the drug. He said he only worked at VA 7/8 time, and that the agency should have no ownership or rights to the drug invented and then sold back to the agency for billions.
His massive $400 million windfall had its genesis from this kind of program.
Shortly after the news broke about his earnings, I filed a FOIA with VA that is still pending full release of the documents I sought. Many of the names were redacted of VA doctors who selected Shinazi for an award based on the hepatitis C invention.
History Of Program From GAO Audit Report
Just after World War II, VA developed affiliations with medical schools to improve acute care and physical and mental rehabilitation for veterans. As part of the relationship, VA medical centers have contributed to the education of medical students and residents. Besides medical students and residents, other dual appointees—clinicians and researchers—spend either a full 40-hour week or a fraction of the work week at VA and other time at the affiliated university.
On January 23, 1950, Executive Order 10,096 established that the government shall obtain the entire right, title, and interest in and to all inventions made by government employees during working hours; with a contribution by the government of facilities, equipment, materials, funds, or information, or time and services of other government employees on official duty; or which bear a direct relation to or are made as a consequence of the employee’s duties. Since the early 1980s, the federal government has taken several actions related to technology transfer from federal laboratories.
Technology transfer is the process of transferring scientific findings from one organization to another for the purpose of further development and commercialization. In this regard, federal agencies are authorized to issue licenses to outside entities granting rights to make, use, or sell government owned inventions. One of the first technology transfer laws, the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, articulated the need for a strong national policy supporting domestic technology transfer. The law requires federal laboratories to establish an office of research and technology applications and devote budget and personnel resources to promoting technology cooperation and the transfer of technologies to private industry and state and local governments. In addition, the act requires federal agencies that operate or direct federal laboratories to report information on technology transfer performance annually to the Office of Management and Budget, as part of their annual budget submission. Copies of those reports should be transmitted to the Secretary of Commerce who must submit a summary report to Congress and the President.
For many years after the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, VA waived ownership rights to inventions generated by its researchers, leaving the responsibilities for patenting, marketing, and licensing with the inventor and the VA medical center’s university partner. As a result of this practice, according to former VA officials, some VA research was not commercialized because VA did not have a technology transfer program or other means to promote commercialization.
In 2000, VA created the VA Technology Transfer Program to facilitate the commercialization of VA inventions to benefit veterans and the American public. VA developed technology transfer agreements with universities to help facilitate technology transfer. Under the terms of the agreements, the universities can take the lead on patenting and commercialization, and VA can retain joint ownership of inventions. Among other things, the original agreements gave the universities the right of first refusal to apply for and manage patents, market the technologies, negotiate licenses, and collect royalties to be shared with VA.
As of November 2017, the VA Technology Transfer Office, located in Washington, D.C., employed five technology transfer specialists responsible for all technology transfer activities for VA’s solely owned inventions. These inventions may come from more than 3,000 VA researchers at over 100 VA medical centers, as well as from VA employees at other VA locations. In addition, the technology transfer specialists are responsible for coordinating with universities on inventions made by dually appointed researchers. According to VA officials, VA relies on affiliated universities for most of the technology transfer efforts connected with such inventions, since the universities have their own offices with expertise in technology transfer and are usually willing to take the lead.
Under a Veterans Health Administration 2002 policy on invention disclosures, which was revised in January 2017, VA employees who invent something are directed to disclose those inventions to VA using a disclosure form and complete a certification form to certify whether VA resources were used. VA employees are to disclose inventions to VA even if they were not created with VA resources. Affiliated universities may also require dually appointed researchers to disclose inventions to the university. Under agreements between the universities and VA, universities are required to disclose a dually appointed researcher’s invention to VA, as an additional assurance to aid VA in capturing relevant inventions. Similarly, VA is to notify the university when a dually appointed researcher’s invention comes to its attention.
Where Is The ROI?
Given the history, and universities continued failure to disclose inventions to VA, coupled with the pathetically low return on investment, is American getting a return worthy of the $1.9 billion annual investment?
Now, as an aside, you may notice the signature on agency’s response to the GAO draft report as being none other than that of retired general Gina Farrisee. She was implicated and reprimanded for her role in covering up the friendly fire death of Pat Tillman.
RELATED: General Reprimanded In Tillman Scandal Now Heads VA Human Resources
Later, she was responsible for Army management during the massive PTSD fraud where the military intentionally misdiagnosed soldiers with personality disorders rather than PTSD to avoid paying disability compensation.
After the Army, she slid into a role in VA running human resources under former VA secretary Eric Shinseki during the run-up to the wait time scandal and accountability problems with agency leadership. Obviously, accountability was a flop, and she has since maneuvered herself into a role as Deputy Chief of Staff.
All good things come to those who tow the party line. And if you are really good, maybe the agency will let you invent a multi-billion dollar cure and keep all the profit.
Here is how, CVAC:
1. IMMEDIATELY recognize the problems inherent in the VA are SYSTEM-WIDE, not just limited to a few locations.
2. Fire all the Lazy No Good Workers. Fire EVERY single AFGE/SES Employee.
3. Sell off all the VA facilities. Alternatively, they may be converted into military barracks-style housing for homeless veterans. These will be run with military-style rules to promote good order and discipline.
4. Issue all veterans a card that allows them to choose their own doctors within their community that they can TRUST.
5. The United States Government will PAY those doctors promptly (Within 45 days) for the care they provide veterans.
6. ELIMINATE the “Federal Protection” Umbrella for incompetent QUACKS that the VA sends to other states to practice other than their own. Going to practice in XX state? You need to be LICENSED in XX state.
7. Any claim a veteran submits to the VBA that requires more than 90 days to adjudicate, is automatically found to be in favor of the veteran. Should a veteran file a false claim to scam the system, the VA will have to prove in civil court that the claim was falsely submitted. For filing a false claim, the veteran will be subject to ALL of the following:
(A). The claim shall be denied. If the veteran has received any form of benefits because of the false claim they will be required to fully repay the benefits at cost.
(B). The veteran will be banned from all VA facilities for the remainder of their life.
(C). The veteran will lose any benefits they originally have or had, and will not be allowed to file for further benefits.
8. All veterans will be allowed to seek/retain the services of a Veterans Rights Attorney from their first initial contact with the VA. This will help to protect the legal rights of veterans against corrupt and incompetent VA employees.
9. No AFGE, nor any other Labor Union business will be allowed to take place in any Federal Workplace. Conducting Union Business during working hours will be STRICTLY PROHIBITED and will be STRICTLY ENFORCED. Should any government employee be found violating this provision, it will result in IMMEDIATE LIFETIME DISMISSAL FROM ANY/ALL STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTAL EMPLOYMENT.
10. Attorneys for appeal will be retained at the former employee’s PERSONAL expense. U. S. Taxpayer’s will not be subject to payment of legal bills for incompetent or dishonest personnel with regards to Governmental Employment.
To whom any Veteran who this reads this your belief how to improve Veteran Health Care please reply back don’t be Chicken Shit.
Off topic, but y’all need a good laugh.
There’s four states having special elections. They are Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and one other.
One of the incumbents running in West Virginia is a convicted felon by the name of “Blankenship”!
He was convicted of something to do with his coal mine around 5 years ago.
The other day he blamed the cave in/explosion on the government. Because the mine examiners “cut off oxygen” in the mine.
One of his constituents says he’s going to vote for Blankenship. Even though he lost three cousins in that mine tragedy. He has a real good reason for WHY he’s voting for Blankenship –
Now comes the kicker;
He said; quote; “Yes, I’m voting for Mr. Blankenship! Because, he may be a crook, but, he’s an honest crook!” unquote!
“North Little Rock VA worker held in assault of patient”
By Ryan Tarinelli
published May 4, 2018
“A Veterans Affairs employee was arrested Thursday in the assault of an elderly patient, according to a police report.
Authorities arrested 54-year-old Vi-Lissa Provitt at the VA health care center on Fort Roots Drive in North Little Rock, the report said.
Police said Provitt was assigned to care for an elderly patient who needs 24/7 care. After the patient had crawled off a sleeping mat, Provitt got angry and dragged the patient back to the mat, according to authorities.
Later during the incident, Provitt caused injuries to the patient’s head, neck and left side of his face, according to the report.
The report said Provitt was heard yelling “He’s getting on my nerves, I’m tired of this s**t.””
Full Article At: “https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2018/may/04/north-little-rock-va-worker-held-assault-patient/”
The issues keep coming and so sad. People are aware of the truth of what is happening to us, Veterans.
This story is another example of our VA doing what’s best and providing us, Veterans, with the best possible health care (sarcasm). Another example of how we are used as test subjects to make someone rich.
Arrggguuuhhhh!!! How many homeless, how many unpaid medical bills, how many able to seek local treatment instead of driving 200 miles to the closest VAMC, etc with this amount of money?
No wonder those in power don’t want to privatize Veteran’s healthcare and do away with VA hospitals– no money in it!
I keep hoping there is good left in the world, but my eyes & ears tell me different.
That’s exactly what VA employees are afraid of – “Privatization of VA!”
If it is PRIVATIZED, they lose their jobs!
First, Fuck the VA!
Now, off topic: thebrownmoose, I never did thank you for posting how to go about securing our medical records, so, thank you, much appreciated..
Finally, in ending, Fuck the VA!
Later Gators -!ii!-
cj, you are very welcome. I finally got two of my HHS complaints against my VAMC confirmed as violations. The VA is the largest HIPAA/Privacy law violators annually and have never been fined. Why????
For an eye-opening look at some of the Veterans Administrations problems with IT that will affect the $13 Billion-dollar Cerner deal. Problems that will ultimately end in failure of the Cerner Contract even after the VA invests at least double or triple the contract amount to upgrade Computer systems and IT support infrastructure. Not to mention the ultimate resistance to change by VA employees that will undermine the software that will never be fully implemented or utilized.
The VA tracking system of equipment and resources that has never functioned. Even after the VA knew the system was doomed to catastrophic failure they kept throwing money at it and it is still not working today.
“VA House committee to examine troubled $543 million tech contract”
Updated 13 minutes ago
By Jeremy Schwartz, American-Statesman Staff
“The House Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday afternoon to examine a troubled half-billion dollar technology contract to track medical equipment that has been plagued with problems for years.
The Department of Veterans of Affairs has said the 2012 contract with what was then Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services would jumpstart the department’s foray into advanced technologies, allowing it to wirelessly track equipment as it moves through medical centers. The effort to build a real-time locating system, or RTLS, would save millions of dollars in lost or misplaced equipment and prevent death and disease from unsterilized equipment, officials said.
But a 2017 American-Statesman investigation revealed that two years ago VA officials warned in internal emails the contract was in danger of “catastrophic failure” amid fundamental concerns over whether the department’s WiFi could support the system and the reliability of the small tags used to track equipment.
The contract was eventually downscaled and instead of bringing the technology to every VA hospital in the nation, the number of RTLS facilities was cut almost in half. The contract’s 2017 completion date was extended by at least a year.
The problems with the RTLS contract underscore the VA’s larger challenges with information technology, which has been dubbed a “high risk area” by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. In December, the VA’s internal investigators confirmed the Statesman’s findings, concluding that the RTLS contract had been dogged by poor oversight and security lapses.”
Full Article At: “https://www.statesman.com/news/local-military/house-committee-examine-troubled-543-million-tech-contract/0G6uarnv6lorZGGIVhjzXO/”
Imagine for a second The Government Accountability Office as a human-like body. Big head, big ears, nose, and eyes capable of sniffing out rats anywhere. But no brawn, tiny little legs and arms, and certainly, no balls.
No surprise here. The legal practice surrounding intellectual property is one of the finest, most well crafted and tuned criminal enterprises on the planet. Only in Pig Med and Pig Pharma can a scientist make a few bucks. Engineering creativity in this country is being squashed by a legal system designed to favor and feed at the trough of the corporate hogs. I know guys who have taken their IP to Korea and China. They’d rather take their chances getting hosed by them than deal with the GE’s of the world.
It’s just another example of Beltway piggery. The VA is a massive trough. Congress can feed goodies to their buddies at will, and no one is watching. Anything comes up? The fall back is always platitudes directed toward our bravest, and finest and most loyal citizens. Queue the band, raise that damn flag, and by all means, God Bless our veterans and God Bless America. And the sheeple kneel in the lea in deference and respect. And then they go back to watching America’s Favorite Singing Dancing Fatty Racing Around An Island, all in awe of the Trumpdashians.
I was looking for information on the Malcolm Randall VA in Gainesville FL because an in-law received surgery for cancer & was dead within the week. The public list of adverse employee actions taken at the VA that was to be updated weekly has not been updated since February 2018. Future Accountability Reports are on hold while OAWP transitions to use authoritative VA HR data for all actions with an effective date in 2018. Previous reports were based on information collected manually by HR offices across VA. Using data from official HR systems ensures the accuracy and reliability of the report. Once this transition is complete, new Accountability reports will be posted monthly. [“https://www.va.gov/accountability/”] Another VA failure at accountability & patient care.
All I could think of when I pondered today’s most excellent blog article was a serene river setting. Light white water rapids and dense forest. Then the math kicked in and it is an audio visual equation. Here it is. Pushing play button now…(I will dub in the audio.);
(A gentle strumming first starts to pick the music all sweet and slow then the song is picked up by an old fashioned down home skitter bunk stretch nut banjo…)
We The People paid Shit Tons (ST) of money in return for “research”.
(The music picks up a beat and the guitar is challenging the banjo now.)
In return for the research we got just enough to pay for the paperclips used in the research plus 17% of the staples and tape. One party got the gold mine and one party got the shaft.
(Banjo is answering note for note.)
The research was done on veterans.
(Guitar cuts loose.)
The researchers drive Porsche.
(Banjo unleashes all the fury and passion and inbred natural talent only rarely seen in downhome traditional back woods country style living and simple folk. Practiced for generations inside the same house just like VA policy makers…)
(Guitar desperately tries to keep up then with banjo but ends up just strumming along. Banjo accelerates music and everyone dances to it except Jeb and Bubba down by the river.)
My conclusion is that the banjo ALWAYS wins and that sometimes the forest is just just behind those trees over there with the river of money flowing through it. The pig squealing down by the river might not be a pig at all and might really be the American taxpayer. I think they call it pork spending?
The math does not favor the pig nor the guitar. The veteran in this equation? Obviously the veteran here in this scenario is the tune that the banjo is playing and our Constitution is the guitar.
I am gonna go get some corn fritters now and kick back a spell. All this thinking wears me out.
Over a billion spent each year employing VA “researchers”, and maybe $12 is directly benefiting veterans. Likely because the universities are making out like bandits over VA financial support of their research programs.
I had no idea VA spent that much every freaking year.
If you look online, you can find a program called the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. This was a program created by a law passed back in the 1990s. It mandated the VA set up an independent research avenue where independent researchers could be funded by funds separate from the VA budget.
The VA squealed like pigs because they wanted that money. It amounted to roughly $5 to $15 million per year depending on how Congress felt about funding. The money was granted to independent researchers to produce findings and possible treatment for specific veterans health issues. The grants were maybe average $300,000 to $900,000 each depending on how big the research project was.
This committee was specifically set up to fund independent research because the VA and DOD pissed away $200 million on Gulf War Illness research, and still publicly claimed they could not find the cause of our illnesses.
Around 2006 the VA completely changed the charter so as to try take much more control over the committee and its funding.
But over a billion per year is spent by VA on research, with around $300k return on royalties, and VA is still unaware of common problems faced by Vietnam Agent Orange, Gulf War and OIF/OEF vets, particularly Burn Pit vets.
Its a goddamned disgrace that VA spends that much on what is little more than a jobs program for VA hacks and university professors….with many universities sitting on multi-billion dollar endowments.
Given how fucking ignorant most VA doctors are on 20th Century medicine, it should be mandated that a percentage of VA research funding be spent on educating VA doctors in what research is being paid for and conducted by the VA. Their entire research portfolio should be published yearly and publicly available so veterans can read it for themselves, and educate VA providers since many will choose to remain ignorant.
Perhaps the IG report might kick start the VA actually doing this.
But then, that would mean the VA might be held accountable for the massive amounts of money wasted on useless research, or how vets are being scammed with research paid for by the VA, but benefiting universities and Big Pharma.
Can anyone who reads this can any Veteran tell me what is the difference between the Choice Card the Community Care Thanks.
Community Care is just for mental health, Choice Card can be used for any pcp or specialty care provider.
I was thinking of two different systems, civilian and VA. Anyway hope you find what your looking for, the VA has the definition they use for community care on web site.
Yes I can. “Community Care” is what VA tells the press in a statement that patients in life threatening emergencies in Roseburg Oregon should have sought instead of the VA facility at which the veteran perished in, for example, Roseburg Oregon VAMC.
The “Choice Card” I was sent was useful insofar as on it was printed a phone number I could call to ask why the Choice Program was not authorizing care in my community for treatment that required the Choice Card in the first place. It is a similar program because the Choice help line I called off the card also told me Roseburg VAMC should not have been involved with the issuing of the card, sort of like real life threatening emergencies there; they have an ER room but when you die in it they say you should have sought “Community Care” instead of “Choosing” the Roseburg ER.
So from what I can see the two terms are similar but serve different functions for vets as a practical matter. Sort of like research done privately and research done by VA, right?
I also see ‘Community Care’ in form of private citizen taxpayers pooling together to build wheelchair ramps the VA failed to do, young Veteran volunteers going to elderly Vetetran homes and doing their yardwork, also local neighbors have even pooled together to get service dog for a Vet in which the VA again, and VSO’s, failed miserably at…
…many more examples of “Community Care”…or “Community Cares, VA Scares”
According to the “VA says Choice will broke in three weeks”!
That was a title from “military.com” this morning.
Billions of taxpayers monies going into somebody’s damn pocket!
Why do I say that? Because LOTS of healthcare professionals aren’t being paid. Then the vet is stuck with the bill!
Somebody got wealthy on the deal and somebody else got lost in the confusion. That swamp is deep and massive and not any one person can drain it. The VA is at a point of no return when it comes to efficiency and effectiveness, that would mean somebody in the system would have to admit wrong doing and that will never happen.
Yet, In private industry. The company owns the patent for any inventions the employee filed. This is wrong on every level.
As the story goes and a very long time ago, someone came up with the notion that if the bipeds followed a few rules, they could enjoy great harmony among themselves. It seems that one of those rules had something to do with stealing.
This article prompted me to deposit yet another morning research log into the porcelain suggestion box. Chances are very high for a completely nutty & corny outcome.
Well, another scam by upper managements, in Washington DC and universities, to screw the taxpayers. If I read this FUBAR correctly!
So, That’s the “WHY” Shinazi left so abruptly! He didn’t want to have to testify on his “ill-gotten gains”! Which is exactly what Ben, and others, had surmised!
I wonder how many other pukes out there have gotten rich off the backs of the taxpayers and veterans?
That would be interesting information!!!!
BEN this is what I get when trying to post this article to fakebook….And I’m not on a phone…Someone doesn’t like this article…LOL
Can’t Load URL: The domain of this URL isn’t included in the app’s domains. To be able to load this URL, add all domains and subdomains of your app to the App Domains field in your app settings.
It came out over the weekend, Zuckerberg hired the law firm associated with Eric Holder.
It was to help in “…censoring conservative viewpoints!”
Seems like censorship is still alive and well at Facebook and other social media sites!
Yep, been having some issues with FB and others blocking websites. A new block message was something like ‘blocked suspicious website, running approval scans.’ I think, think it’s coming from FFox. Lovely police state we live in today.
Heard on a talk show yesterday Zuckerscum and others are ramping up censoring/algorithms along with Googly to save us from ‘fake news,’ pedophiles, and scams. How nice of that shit head that should be sent to exile like many others. Talk show also mentioned about Soros dumping tons of money in various state’s voting processes with Florida supposedly being a main one for some reason.
Odd too since ACLU supposedly won a law suit years back stating that online speech and expression was solidly protected by the Constitution. No helping matters locally for sure.
The professors are the problem. If you think the universities are getting the rake off, you are wrong. Since I retired from a major university where residents use the VA as one of their rotations, and researchers use vets as guines pigs, numerous professors have acquired private patents which are neither shared with the university or VA. They are becoming extremely wealthy. This is a rather new occurrence. When my boss was the chief of a dept. at the VA, I had not witnessed this. These are extremely lucrative patents too, and they should have been shared by the university and the VA. I appears that there is an I’ll pat your back, if you pat mine type of kickback scheme. Meanwhile the guinea pig Vets are yet again used and abused. I have hated the university’s presence at the VA since one of the professors bragged about shutting down claims for Agent Orange. I have seen what genetic damage AO has caused my Vietnam Vet brother, son and sweet little granddaughter. The elitest attitude is an outrage. The VA meme of “Delay, Deny and Hope You Die” lives on. It rips my heart out!!!
Rips my heart out too,
Sorry to hear about your brother and family. Such is not uncommon, sadly. Does more than rip my heart out.
Patents? Patent scamming, secrecy, kick-backs, secret money laundering so some unknown parties or silent investors can get theirs too is not new. Who can say how some college may actually be getting funds inserted into some account somewhere or covered by gifts, donations, grants or some other scheming.
Locally we are/were blocked supposedly by laws, I can’t find, but heard our governor (Daniels) on the news report and in a college rag about college experimentation with GMO, Frankenfoods, farm lands used, farmers, were off limits for questions. Foreign investors, staff, working with the college crowd/scientist were secretive (totally blacked out) due to ‘trademarked secrets’ plus patent protections so they didn’t have to divulge anything. (Locally information about anything is hard to come by, questioning too.) Including the foreigners not caring who or what they killed and destroyed here. Even after reports of that ground water contamination, severe birth defects, etc.
A scientist got fired and never heard from again publicly since she went public about money and support coming in for the university, their projects, for all the equipment, lands needed, whatever. Plus the damages being reported by local citizens, aquifers etc., rural too. All info about that was dismissed and swept under the carpet. Democracy Now, again, I think, did a documentary about this many years back and today they will claim it was never on their broadcasts.
SES, SERCO and others have their mits in anything… it’s corrupt or corruptible.
Another loser gov agency:
Deep pockets, old, NWO family type junk:
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