Madison VA Spent $300k On 2 Unusable Robots


A watchdog audit showed Madison VA hospital spent over $300,000 on two robots that it later determined it could not use.

Someone at Madison VA decided to buy two robots to deliver supplies down hallways like the Jetsons. Once the robots were delivered, the facility realized it forgot to evaluate whether the robots could logistically deliver items through a busy hallway with humans.

They were later auctioned for $1,937 at an enormous loss.


According to the Washington Beacon:

The same year that the hospital purchased the robots, the cardiology department leased a laser lead extractor, a tool used to remove pacemaker defibrillator leads from patients’ hearts, for about $100,000. Hospital workers were unable to use the device because of issues with operating room space and staffing. Still, the medical center continued to lease the device for two and a half years without using it.

When confronted by the inspector general, hospital managers could not produce documentation showing that the lease for the device was cost effective. Moreover, investigators turned up hospital records from 2013 that stated erroneously that “the device was in use and meeting their needs.”

Because the hospital could not use the lead extractor, the VA paid for veterans to go to non-VA facilities to undergo lead extraction procedures. It is unclear how much the agency spent to send veterans elsewhere to receive the treatment.

The inspector general urged leaders at the Madison VA hospital to take steps to improve oversight of equipment acquisitions.

I would bet this kind of report is just the tip of the iceberg regarding VA buying unusable technology. Given the huge size of high-end art spending spree, I’d bet the technology boggle is going to get deeper.


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  1. who bought them, the director or the person who ordered them ? They all act like robots, If you want a real person go some where else,

  2. 10/06/2016

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    Ill prepared Management, absent Leadership, and employees/union workers without voices/ or the power to protest “stupidity” is the conclusion of this event. Why after all these years of corrective actions [almost three years]?


    Why are the Koch Brothers’ “Agents” CVA now discussing in Public the 293 dead Veterans [VA’s OIG Phoenix report 2014] in October, 2016 when I confronted the incoming Secretary of the VA on 08/08/2014 in their presence, down in the basement of the Phoenix VA? What did Bob McDonald do with the 3,000 pages of Research handed over to him [first Four Books]?

    The 5 Ds.


    Don Karg

  3. Ever hear the phrase “use it or lose it”?

    The bureaucrats gain their importance by having a ‘bigger’ department, manage a ‘bigger’ budget and do ‘bigger’ things …… and their proficiency evaluations are performed by the person who used to have their job …. who now has a more important job, perhaps he is ‘directing’ 3 or 4 departments …. his importance is gauged by the ‘bigger’ attitude.

    All of these managers want at least a 6% bigger budget than they had last year …. so IF they don’t use the money already budgeted, then they’ll lose the use of that money and no manager at the VA or at _(any government agency)_______________ (fill in the blank), whether its a school board, county commissioner, or the head of Homeland Security wants to be in charge of a ‘shrinking’ department.

    The VA bureaucracy has as many ‘systemic’ problems as any large, cumbersome government bureaucracy. What makes the VA bureaucracy so bad is the fact that real people – (veterans) are affected so directly.

  4. A Washington Times article just hit about another IG report on Phoenix wait times.

    It says more than 200 died waiting, and at least 1 might have been saved if they would have seen him.

  5. I wonder if when the Hines VAMC ‘hallway hogging robot” was found to not stop in presence of living tissue, if they did not first attempt taking the airbags out of the VA Transport Vans and wrap them in front so it did not hurt so bad when Rosie was plowing through?
    What’s next? Disruptive Committee on roller skates on those long hallways?

    1. nope. The next hing is robotic Disruptive Behavior Committees to alleviate the DBC backlog of veterans waiting to be labelled catagory one violent and disruptive. These damn wait lists!

  6. I think it’s a good thing that the VA didn’t try those magnets, or robots. Being that they are not completely competent. Understated. Whoever would have used them, Dr., nurses, or clerks, would have most likely killed whoever was within range.

  7. I think the problem is with moochers clogging up the system. VA employment practices are less than stellar but AFGE is gonna kick some ass. Given VA medical proficiency the nuts might be erroneously reported as being ass but RAND studies show any kick delivered sharply by an AFGE employee can improve wait list times substantially.

    Meanwhile the asses on the AFGE employees grow ever softer and geometrically larger. This is a health hazard. Employees no longer able to reach their own ass for personal hygene are entitled to have the American public wipe it for them – it’s in the contract on page 3278, Paragraph 16, subsection c. Under contract, any AFGE employee may signal that a personal hygeine episode is required as stated above by holding aloft the middle digit of either hand. AFGE physicians and nurses should consult their own doctors to determine the correct digit to hold aloft if in doubt. OIG leadership is asked to remove their hands from their private areas prior to the ass wiping and not touch the wipers. Wipers need to take catagory two biological precautions when performing the wipe on an OIG leadership ass fresh from ANY VA conference room.

    Any bruising caused to the nuts of veterans or others from a misplaced AFGE kick in the ass will be the responsibility of the United States Government which holds all of its own employees harmless. Its a good deal for ass kicking crowd who is a bit short on topics of anatomy.

    Meanwhile, back at the farm, Joey is pinned under the tractor and begs Lassie to go for help. Lassie runs to the nearest place, a VA hospital.

    Lassie is restrained and slated for euthanasia for trying to bark out the message. Joey liquifies. Tractor is rusting, but the wheels keep spinning. Joey got it from his Chapter 35 claim. It’s a VA tractor.

  8. Phoenix, Arizona their got robots at the Carl Hayden Veteran Medical Center plus 3 Directors what happening at the Veterans Healthcare System ?

  9. Did anybody ever see these robots or see this big magnet .? I don’t believe they were ever there . I think this is one big scam after another to render by things that nobody ever gets to see her use . I agree that the VA may crumble someday. I just wonder how many vets have moved to towns where there’s VA so they can be closer, and then there in deep shit .

  10. Anyone else having problems getting email alerts from Ben’s site? Either not getting the Subscribe notification or getting an alert when a new comment is posted?

    For the past couple days, emails haven’t been coming in for new comments being posted. Or even the usual email saying Ben has posted a new column.

    Either Ben is updating some software, hackers are targeting his site, or my email provider is pathetically inept. Like the VA.

    1. Yes, but it’s par for mine as it’s Time Warner, For last few months I do not even get the article notification until late in the afternoon, consistently, so am thinking it’s just been my email provider. I do not link any of my email accounts to my phone because most of the village/communities where I live make it now a $200. initial fine if seen driving while using *any* electronic device such as a phone or GPS. Our taxes hard at work for more $$

  11. Clearly an example of someone sitting around, being told they have X amount of money to spend, getting a stupid idea, then justifying it regardless of any reason.

    Meanwhile how many vets went without replacement prosthetics or wheel chairs because the VA claimed they didn’t have the money?

    How is it someone can buy such expensive equipment, not knowing the specs of what they are buying? Or is this like Aurora where some nitwit keeps changing the specs because they want it to deliver envelopes, donuts and make cappuccino?

    I suspect whoever bought this came from some other large government supply facility where a machine like this might make sense, but never bothered to thoroughly check whether it would work in a hospital.
    I saw a delivery robot at Sacramento Army Depot years ago. It was about 4 feet wide and 6 feet long, was like a table with wheels, and would deliver envelopes, parts or anything it could carry. Given how big the facility was and their mission, it made sense. It could travel down long warehouse hallways, outside on loading docks, across the street and to other warehouses.

    But for $300k, in a hospital the size of Madison, it’s a huge waste.

    How many vets got run over?

    How huge was it that it couldn’t go down the wide hallways in that place? How would it get to the many different floors of the hospital?

    As for the laser thingy, I suspect they signed a 3 year or more contract, and couldn’t get out of it once they realized the doctors they hire are too incompetent to use it, so they lied to justify it.

    I went to the Madison VA for about 15 years. It had been the best VA I have ever gone to. Clearly the leadership at that place has changed, and is as pathetic as any other VA now.

  12. Two articles out today.
    From “Military Daily News”

    “Trump Draws Fire for PTSD Comments”

    “Stars & Stripes | by Alex Horton
    (There’s another ‘take’ on this issue by Cathy Burke from Newsmax. Read the comments)
    (I’d like to hear from y’all over this one! I stand with Mr. Trump on this issue! Having PTSD doesn’t make one “weak”!)

    From “American Spotlight”

    “WHOA: Hillary Video surfaces that has liberals SCRAMBLING”

    Looks like she’s placed “Foot in mouth” AGAIN!
    What’s that about a “700 mile fence on the Mexican border, you say?”
    I guess it’s true. Everything you say will come back to haunt you!

    1. Crazy elf- At this point, I’d take Rosie The Robot for President and only program her with the Constitution of The United States. Call her “The Terminator”. Clean house. Get back to truly making America great again. America needs one huge enema. I think a robot could do better than these last shy of 8. Hell, my automated catbox is a robot and could do a better job!
      Anyone take notice Putin has withdrawn immediately from ALL nuclear disarmament talks and agreements, past to present? The chess game is becoming a cold game again.

      My guess on the other robot the VA let set that was supposed to be used for specialized surgical was left to sit because someone’s ego would not admit they did not know how to use it and certainly could not be bothered to read the operating manual, let alone perhaps even be qualified/trained to operate such devices. Just a guess. Nothing else makes sense to me.

      1. namnibor,
        Yes, I read yesterday Putin is backing out of the Uranium deals.
        It also claimed he’s moving missiles up to his front line.
        The “Cold War” has become a “Frigid (Ice) War”!
        All due to the stupidity of this administration and Hillary (stupidly) accusing Russia of hacking her emails! Which has been disputed by the news media!
        Our own government security agencies are responsible for the leak! It seems they don’t want her to be POTUS, PERIOD!

        I still stand by my earlier (full) comment. Where sooner or later, the VA will crumble. And all the stupid idiots in the lower rank and file will be held accountable. Not the upper echelon, which needs to be taken to task over all the bull crap they’ve done!

  13. My sardonic humor today was purposeful to make a point of the level of crazy the VA has reached. They willingly waste in this case, $300,000+++ plus resources on these robots with no forethought on the freaking Veterans that would be walking amidst in the hallways. Why? Because the sole focus at the VA was to have a machine or someone else do the very JOB the VA employee is PAID to DO. Not any focus on Vets or the VA would have ensured any robot would have an algorithm to be able to circumnavigate ‘soft targets’ such as we Vets apparently are.

    Meanwhile, as the VA blows a few hundred grand or more on just this, the same VA cannot provide a wheelchair or a promised wheelchair ramp for a given Vet that’s been waiting for a couple years.

    The VA should not be able to manage their own financials and arbitrary spending. I get the sense that each and every year the VA at each and every major VHA and VSN the yearly budget is treated like an unaccountable cookie jar until it’s down to crumbs and then…give me more, please? If a Vet were to manage his finances remotely this way,an appointed fiduciary skimming off their Disability Compensation would be assigned like lightening.

    The VA requires a Fiduciary and make that be a Disabled Veteran Attorney and Veteran Medical Technician! 🙂

  14. It seems, at least in my opinion, each individual VHA has an upper administration. Which is believing they are allowed to spend taxpayers monies on anything, and everything, their little heart desires.
    These “expenditures”, in many cases, could be, and (probably) are, considered fraud, waste and abuse!

    Do these ‘acquisition personnel’ at VHA’s realize, sooner or later, their “schemes” will be caught? That those in the “lower rank and file” usually end up paying the price for illegal activities against taxpayers!
    And the upper echelon, (directors, etc.), gets to quietly retire with all benefits!

    Don’t they realize taxpayers will rise up and demand accountability and transparency? That, sooner or later, the taxpayers will demand someone has to go to jail over this! As was so eloquently stated at the end of “National Treasure”, ie: “Someone has to go to jail!”

    The time is coming where all involved will be held to account. The “people” are seeing the criminal activities in almost all government agencies, ie; IRS, DOD, VA, FBI, DOJ, etc., etc..
    Maybe this is the “WHY” the DHS, ‘Dept. of Homeland Security’, and other security agencies, have released thousands of emails of the DNC and Hillary Clinton in the past few months.
    Maybe this is WHY more than a few Republicans, and yes – some Democrats, are staying in Washington DC, and doing the jobs taxpayers are paying them to do! They know “We the People” are not only “concerned”, we’re pissed!

    There’s also been more articles coming to light on these atrocities by many in our government.
    Every day there are new videos on Utube divulging information, from lawmakers, about these atrocities.
    Yet, the majority of Main Stream Medias are more interested in what is happening with sports figures and actors etc., etc.!
    Or, they care about inconsequential Bull Crap in the “Race to the White House!” Which, BTW, makes them “complicit in the atrocities”!

    I believe the “bubble” around these out of control government agencies is about to burst.
    I remember an old saying, a very old saying;


    I just pray it isn’t America which is coming to an end. As has happened to many great cultures in history!
    It’s been said, “America is the Beacon of Freedom!” The “Hallmark of all Societies”! If America falls, or falters, so will the world!

  15. The VAOIG Report & Summary on the Middleton VAMC waste is at:

    Report Summary

    “Title: Review of Alleged Waste of Funds at VHA’s Madison VA Medical Center”

    Full Copy of Report

    “Review of Alleged Waste of Funds at the VA Medical Center in Madison, Wisconsin”, VAOIG, September 30, 2016


    1. A review of the full report show an amazing amount of white wash applied by the VAOIG to hide the names of the staff members and the names of the companies involved.

      Over all Grade for this report is a F+.


      Regarding the Robots;

      One thing that the report does mention is the fact that the robots earned a substantial amount of travel pay being transferred from Middleton to Milwaukee and then to Hines in Chicago. The transfers helps to hide the paper trail and corruption involved.

      Additionally the report does include the total price paid for the two unusable robots which was $312,899. Also the price that the Hines VAMC sold them back to the original company that sold them to Middleton for a mere $1,937.

      Overall a great way the VA can launder a $311,000 theft of cash.


      Regarding the Laser Lead Extractor;

      The Lead Extractor was being leased to supposedly deal with the care of 39 Veterans that never received that care through the Middleton VAMC.

      The facility acquired the laser lead extractor in December 2012 after the Food and Drug Administration issued two recall notices related to faulty pacemaker and defibrillator leads. The faulty leads were in 39 veterans connected to the VAMC.

      Although these veterans should have been notified and sent to a nearby facility such as Milwaukee VAMC or Minneapolis VAMC or a civilian hospital to have these leads replaced at the time of the recall.

      But instead of treating these 39 Veterans with the faulty pacemaker and defibrillator leads in an urgent possibly life saving manner. The VAMC decides to lease Lead Extractor 9 months before they could build the special operating room required to use the Lead Extractor.

      Then after the special operating room was build decided not to install the Lead Extractor since they didn’t have any staff trained or qualified to use the equipment.

      The VAOIG did find documentation used to support the continued lease of the laser lead extractor was inaccurate. For example, the facility contract coordinator gave us a market research document prepared by the nurse manager of Cardiology in December 2013, which stated that the device was in use and meeting their needs—despite the fact that the facility had never used it. They also found that, subsequent to the preparation of this document, the VAMC had issued a contract effective May 1, 2014 to continue leasing the laser.

      Although the White Wash dripping from the VAOIG report does mention that veterans were sent to non-VA hospitals—at VA expense—to have the procedures performed. It doesn’t mention how many Veterans died because of the wait time for the contractor games the VAMC was playing.

      And again no name of the company who was leasing the equipment to the VA or any of the names of the people involved in this most heinous crime.

      1. Huge amounts of money wasted, but the VAIG says, nothing to see here, move along.

        Isn’t it amazing how false information costing so much money can be overlooked and nobody held accountable?

        Imagine a vet providing misleading or false information for travel pay.

      2. 91Veteran,

        I hear ya, at the bare minimum the nurse manager of Cardiology who filed the false market research document to continue the bogus contract should be charged and prosecuted for Fraud.

        Not that the nurse manager was the only person responsible for this Fraudulent contract.

        Hell in this case even the person who wrote the bogus IG report should be fired. Also the IG should be fired for allowing this bogus report to pass through his office.

      3. A file photo shows how they maintain their solar panels at the hospital. You can see them stacked up roof of the building on the left hand side of the picture. They all look like they have clearly been damaged and left to rot.

        What a waste of money.


  16. What really happened:

    On The Jetson’s, Rosie The Robot Maid was quite sassy and am thinking Rosie was auctioned off because Rosie was tired of VA Employees asking her to do their jobs. She became fully self-aware of the level of corruption at the VA and she and her robot twin attempted to become Whistleblowers when some sick VA Employee tried to make Rosie into an electronic sex toy and lease her out as a sex slave to employee parties
    . The auction was two half-dismantled robots because they no longer had a robot to instruct them how to dismantle the rest of the way. Such is the madness called the VA.

    1. Surviving members of The Rand Corporation fully agree that robots make terrible employee sex auto-bots and many members of The Board and VA Upper Management have rather embarrassing injuries and scars to prove it. 🙂

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