#NomineeNoPass: Veterans Affairs Security Breaches Can’t Be Ignored

Tanya Bradsher Nominee

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (“Committee”) was called out for being derelict in its duty to scrutinize the confirmation of nominee Tanya Bradsher in a recent hearing.

Two nonpartisan organizations representing whistleblowers are demanding answers after Committee members failed to question nominee Bradsher over her involvement in preventing alleged security breaches impacting veteran and whistleblower data.

In a letter sent to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee last week, whistleblower organizations Empower Oversight Whistleblowers & Research (“Empower Oversight”) and Whistleblowers of America (“WoA”) exposed multiple missed opportunities during the confirmation hearing.

The joint letter admonished the Committee for not addressing known failures of VA under chief of staff Bradsher to stop the unlawful data sharing of veteran and whistleblower confidential communications in a Salesforce software customer complaint system called VIEWS, short for VA Integrated Workflow Solution.

The VIEWS system allows bad actors within VA to access confidential information about whistleblowers. The data could, in theory, be used to circumvent the rights of whistleblowers, many of whom are veterans. The system likely also contains veteran complaints to the White House VA hotline that are shared inappropriately with the individual leaders about whom the veteran is complaining.

More on this in a bit.

What’s The Big Deal?

The Committee should scrutinize nominees like Bradsher to ensure they are the most qualified person for the job. That job is to work as the Deputy Secretary, otherwise considered the Chief Operations Officer, for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

This organization is responsible for benefits and health care for veterans in the second largest organization in the history of the federal government with an annual budget of over $200 billion and over 400,000 employees, not to mention 1 million estimated contractors supporting them.

The VA is big, and its mission is a big deal.

Whoever is confirmed as the Deputy Secretary must be vetted and possess experience worthy of the selection; this is not the kind of agency where veterans can afford a Deputy Secretary who needs to learn on the job.

In a country that purportedly will stop at nothing to serve its veterans, this Committee stands between a potential train-wreck nominee and the veterans they are supposed to serve, and there have been not just a few duds.

How did our Committee do in its hearing about Bradsher’s nomination?

WATCH: Bradsher Confirmation Hearing

Remember, Bradsher is the chief of staff responsible for managing all challenges at VA and has been in the position for over two years.

If you skip watching the hearing, I assure you the Committee asked little to no hard questions. Sen Jon Tester lobbed her the softball, “Why do you want this job?” Bradsher replied, paraphrasing, saying something like, “To help more veterans than I can now.”

Tester then mentioned Bradsher would be working with DOD generals on a joint committee to implement the new EHR system, to which he asked, “Does that intimidate you?” meaning working with generals.

Bradsher replied, “No, Senator.”

The Committee failed to press Bradsher on the known scandals or about Bradsher’s past potential involvement in veteran-centric controversies under the Obama Administration.

Why not? Is it because, in the words of Leo Shane, her nomination is considered “historic” by some because she is a Black woman and veteran? Maybe.

Overall, I would give the Committee a low D. How about you?

RELATED: Sen Grassley Fights For Veterans’ Privacy

Coverage of her nomination by the establishment press suggests the sentiment for her confirmation is high, and the public relations campaign to get her confirmed has been in full swing for two months.

Are sentiment, headlines, and public relations experience enough to solve VA’s problems?

Maybe, especially if you are Bradsher, a career military public relations official turned politico, but there remains a host of questions.

Fortunately, many Americans should not need a crystal ball to learn how she may lead VA in the future. Instead, we can look at her track record after working at VA for the past two years to gather some insight.

Presently, Bradsher is responsible for executing the policies and strategies created and agreed to by VA Secretary Denis McDonough and former Deputy Secretary Donald Remy, who quickly departed two months ago.

Remy quickly dipped out in April as VA announced it paused the EHR rollout indefinitely (the EHR contract was renegotiated in May). McDonough is also rumored to be looking for a quick exit before the election.

So, how well has Bradsher managed VA’s challenges as chief of staff over the entire agency since 2021?

It’s time to take a look under the hood.

Current Controversies Worth A Look

At a time when controversies are ballooning, selecting relevant questions for a Committee member to ask the nominee should have been like shooting fish in a barrel when it comes to current issues:

This list was created using Google and about 30 minutes of keyboard time.

For veterans out there, if you were a member of the Committee, what questions would you ask about any of the topical news articles listed above?

Past Controversies Worth An Ask

If that is not enough, what questions might you ask about Bradsher’s involvement at the Pentagon and then Obama Administration controversies? Controversies involving veterans not widely known by the non-veteran community that came to light during or shortly after her time there include:

Of interest is Secretary McDonough’s work in the past and now.

He presided over the White House as chief of staff after previously serving as chief of staff of the White House National Security Council, working directly with Bradsher.

Many of you may recall the Obama Administration was notorious at VA for whistleblower retaliation, covering up the destruction of veteran records, claims backlogs, veteran deaths, and more.

I am sure her nomination now is simply a coincidence and has nothing to do with any effort to whitewash how our country has (mis)treated its veterans for the past two decades under four presidents.

Nothing to see here.

None of this article and critique should be taken to mean Bradsher may not be the best person for the job. However, her credentials lack the experience normally evident for a deputy secretary of any organization, not just the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Few federal Cabinet agencies are known for a deep history of corruption more than the VA.

Committee Exposed For “Rubber Stamp” Vetting Methodology

Last week, whistleblower organizations Empower Oversight Whistleblowers & Research (“Empower Oversight”) and Whistleblowers of America (“WoA”), in a joint letter, exposed failures by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (“Committee”) in recent weeks.

The organizations suggested the organization must protect against serving as “merely a rubber stamp” for White House nominees. Instead, the Committee must “ensure that they are fully informed” before voting to confirm a candidate.

Recently, VA undersecretary for benefits Joshua Jacobs was confirmed without much Committee pushback.

The Committee failed to dig deeper into allegations the now-confirmed nominee was not forthcoming in his answers to Sen. Chuck Grassley. Information from the senator was not circulated among Committee members despite being forwarded to minority leadership well before Jacobs’ confirmation vote.

Now, the nonpartisan organizations are rightly frustrated over the Committee’s failure to ask probing questions only Chief of Staff Bradsher can answer. Bradsher is, after all, the official in charge of VA’s Integrated Workflow Solution (VIEWS) system of records at the center of the dispute.

For the past year, an investigation has been underway into VIEWS. The agency classifies the system as a computer system rather than a system of records. The agency uses VIEWS as a backdoor for communications and data storage. It stores data and creates some new records about those communications.

However, VA generally does not disclose information in VIEWS during discovery and other required disclosures. And the data can be accessed by disgruntled leaders to help triangulate against whistleblowers who made confidential disclosures by not properly masking those communications.

It is now widely known VIEWS contains confidential communications between veterans, whistleblowers, and elected officials. Most elected officials share confidential communications with VA to resolve complaints without realizing the agency does not properly store those records.

This oversight and security failure may explain why the agency boasts a less than 1% settlement rate against whistleblowers alleging retaliation. While it is unlikely Salesforce designed VIEWS for any nefarious purpose; whistleblowers are rightly concerned at least some VA leaders may have figured out how to use the system for malignant purposes.

In the solitary confirmation hearing into Bradsher last month, Committee members failed to scrutinize Bradsher over her known involvement in her concerning oversight of VIEWS and the ongoing investigation into the system ordered by the Office of Special Counsel.

Yet, again, Bradsher is THE agency official responsible for VIEWS and how it is used according to literature published by the vendor that implemented the system.

Sen. Grassley, Empower Oversight, and WoP would like to know what Bradsher has done to address concerns, including written testimony from a fraud examiner provided to Congress addressing the matter.

Empower Oversight and WoA hope certain Committee members will probe into the severely delayed investigation of VA’s Integrated Workflow Solution (VIEWS).

Questions On VIEWS From Whistleblower Orgs

Here are some questions we veterans may get answered about this nominee if any members pick up the gauntlet to learn about Bradsher’s role in:

  1. Stonewalling Senator Grassley’s inquiries about conflicts of interest—which were later substantiated by the VA-OIG—and whistleblower retaliation at the VA.
  2. Failing to mitigate conflicts of interest of senior VA officials, failing to remedy whistleblower retaliation, and failing to hold others accountable for those issues.
  3. Failing to protect veterans’ private health information and confidential whistleblower disclosures from misuse and improper exposure in VIEWS.
  4. Failing to notify victims, other agencies, and Congress of these privacy breaches.
  5. Delaying the VA’s required investigation and report on whistleblower disclosures about these issues to OSC beyond the likely timeframe of her confirmation proceedings.

Why did the Committee not ask questions about this controversy?

These questions are a great start related to the VIEWS. As a veteran rights attorney and advocate for veterans, in addition to whistleblowers, I would take this a step further.

Beyond the topics already noted above about her current work at VA, which should lead to a host of questions requiring some scrutiny, what about her past work in public relations as a propagandist?

Past Propagandist Work

Let’s not forget Bradsher is a longtime mouthpiece of the Pentagon as a trained propagandist in the Army at the White House in the Obama Administration.

How do we know this?

We created a timeline of her various roles while in the Army and since retiring from the Army using LinkedIn, VA.gov, Wikipedia, and other resources:

  • US Army Enlisted (1993-1994)
  • US Army in various roles (1994-2001)
  • Public Affairs officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Army) (2001-2003)
  • Public Affairs officer for the US Army (2003-2009)
  • Public Affairs officer for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, including its Office of Detention for Gitmo (Army) (2009-2011)
  • Public Affairs officer for National Security Council (2011-2013) (Army)
  • Public Affairs official for White House (2013-2014)
  • Public Affairs official for the Department of Homeland Security (2014-2015)
  • Public Affairs official for Defense Health Agency (2015-2016)
  • Public Relations official for American Psychiatric Association (2016-2019)
  • Chief of Staff, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) (2019-2020)
  • National Security Agency Lead, Biden Transition Team (2020-2021)
  • Special Assistant to the President AND (at the same time) NSC Senior Director for Partnerships and Global Engagements for Strategic Engagement (2021)
  • Chief of Staff, VA (2021-Present)

Her career largely consists of working as a propagandist with two years as chief of staff of VA.

I wrote about her past as a propagandist a few weeks ago, including direct quotes and references from various news outlets, including when she delivered propaganda to the American public about the Gitmo detainee treatment for the Office of Detainee Affairs.

READ IT: Tanya Bradsher Background Research

A propagandist, otherwise known as a public relations professional, is defined by Websters as “someone who produces or spreads propaganda; a person who spreads ideas, facts, or allegations deliberately to further a cause or to damage an opposing cause.”

A Propagandist Running VA?

How might a trained propagandist run the second-largest organization in the United States?

Let’s not forget Bradsher is not merely auditioning for the #2 slot at VA to effectively work as the chief operations officer of a $200+ billion budget. Reporting by Leo Shane III revealed Secretary McDonough may resign soon, leaving the organization in the hands of someone with no experience leading any organization, not ever.

Are you a veteran wondering if your rights will be protected by future agency leadership? Do you expect the next Deputy Secretary to have a long track record of decisive and transparent leadership?

Here is an HTML version of the letter sent to the Committee by Empower Oversight and WoP last Friday with footnotes at the bottom. The attachments to the letter PDF are worth a read, as well.

Letter To Senate Veterans Affairs Committee

June 9, 2023

Via Electronic Transmission

The Honorable Jon Tester, Chairman

The Honorable Jerry Moran, Ranking Member

U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs 412 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510-6050

RE:     The Pending Nomination of Tanya J. Bradsher to Be Deputy Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs

Dear Chairman Tester and Ranking Member Moran:

Our organizations represent whistleblowers who have made numerous protected disclosures over the years, including recent disclosures related to the pending nomination for the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”). These disclosures relate, among other things, to serious data security breaches impacting the personal privacy of veterans and VA employees during the tenure of Tanya Bradsher as Chief of Staff to Secretary Denis McDonough.

Although Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (“Committee”) staff were fully aware of these protected disclosures, the Committee nonetheless held a May 31, 2023, hearing without asking the nominee a single question about the serious issues raised by the whistleblower disclosures. The disclosures were not referenced. To date, we are aware of no attempts by Committee staff to contact the whistleblowers and listen to their concerns.

We are disappointed that the Committee has thus far shown no interest in thoroughly vetting the nominee’s record despite the serious issues raised by these whistleblowers on her watch. The Committee has a duty to scrutinize nominees to senior leadership positions like this and to inform fellow Senators about facts relevant to the exercise of their independent vote and participation in the constitutional advice and consent function.

The Committee’s May 31st hearing failed to achieve that goal.

Accordingly, we write to urge you to thoroughly investigate the whistleblower disclosures before deciding whether to elevate this nominee to a Senate-confirmed position. It’s particularly crucial that the Committee examine how these disclosures relate to her responsibilities to safeguard confidential veteran and whistleblower information in her current position.

BACKGROUND

Empower Oversight Whistleblowers & Research (“Empower Oversight”) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational organization, which is dedicated to enhancing independent oversight of government and corporate wrongdoing. It works to help insiders safely and legally report waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, and misconduct to the proper authorities, and seeks to hold those authorities accountable to act on such reports.

Whistleblowers of America (“WoA”) is a nonprofit organization assisting whistleblowers who have suffered retaliation after having identified harm to individuals or the public. Its mission is to provide evidence-based peer support that matches mentors and mentees who follow a whistleblower strategic plan designed to reduce the stress on the whistleblower and assist in problem-solving and decision-making.

Both of our organizations have previously assisted VA whistleblowers in disclosing unethical conduct by senior Veterans Benefits Administration (“VBA”) officials. These disclosures have led to extensive oversight efforts by Senator Charles Grassley1 and have been substantiated by the VA Office of Inspector General (“VA-OIG”).2 We have exposed the VA’s stonewalling of Senator Grassley’s oversight through Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) litigation and additional whistleblower disclosures.3

One email obtained through FOIA litigation and provided to the Senate during its deliberations on the nomination of Joshua Jacobs to be the Under Secretary for Benefits earlier this year demonstrated that he had not been fully candid in denying “any role” in the VA’s gathering of information in response to Senator Grassley’s inquiries.4 Moreover, Jacobs disclosed in answers to Senator Grassley an unresolved sexual harassment allegation against an unnamed senior VA leader5 and failed to provide adequate answers to questions about the VA’s retaliation and firing of whistleblowers.6 This information was not disclosed to the public through the Committee, but rather through Senator Grassley’s website.7 The Committee failed to document any of these concerns in the record of its hearing on Jacobs, a former Deputy Staff Director of the Committee.8

The record of Tanya Bradsher’s involvement in stonewalling Senate oversight of the VA is much more extensive than Jacobs’. As Chief of Staff to the Secretary, she was on countless emails regarding Senator Grassley’s inquiries about conflicts of interest and whistleblower retaliation at the VA.9 Yet she has not been required to answer a single question about how, for more than a year, the VA’s reply to Senator Grassley was drafted but never sent. That draft reply, obtained through FOIA litigation, demonstrates that the VA knew long before the VA-OIG had completed its investigation that the whistleblower disclosures were accurate, but the VA sat on that information and failed to impose any accountability for the conflicts of interest it had allowed to fester.10

VETERANS AND WHISTLEBLOWERS PRIVATE INFORMATION EXPOSED

As the nominee testified at her hearing, “…the Deputy Secretary is ultimately responsible for the electronic healthcare record program, and if confirmed, that responsibility … will fall fully on my shoulders.”11 In light of that responsibility, it is crucial to examine the nominee’s record in protecting the confidentiality of electronic records. On May 29, 2023, two days before the Committee’s hearing on Bradsher’s nomination, now-retired VA employee Peter C. Rizzo signed a statement summarizing a series of previous

protected whistleblower disclosures, including to the nominee’s deputy, about serious privacy concerns with the VA’s Integrated Workflow Solution (“VIEWS”) correspondence tracking system.12

Rizzo, a Certified Fraud Examiner and former VA Program Manager, swore in his statement submitted to the Senate: “[O]n July 13, 2022, I reported these issues directly to Ms. Bradsher’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Maureen Elias, both by video chat and by email. That day, Ms. Elias gave me her word that she would immediately brief Ms. Bradsher on my concerns about VIEWS.”13

The concerns Mr. Rizzo outlined include:

  • “[U]nconscionable mishandling of VA employee and Veterans’ personally identifiable information (‘PII’), personal health information (‘PHI’), and details of [confidential] whistleblower disclosures.”
  • VIEWS compromising the anonymity of “whistleblowers, disabled Veterans seeking confidential assistance, and the privacy” of those whose sensitive information “remains today unprotected and readily accessible in VIEWS.”
  • “[M]embers of the Senate and House who have engaged with VA on behalf of constituents” having their “staff members’ communications with VA…all housed in VIEWS and often left open and accessible…”
  • That “[t]he thousands of authorized VIEWS users are able to access the system without logging in ever again after their initial VIEWS log-in.”
  • That “VA leadership has long known of VIEWS’ security vulnerabilities, and yet not one of them—Ms. Bradsher included—has demonstrated the courage and will to take necessary corrective action.”14

At the time Mr. Rizzo made his report to Ms. Bradsher’s Deputy Chief of Staff, similar concerns had been raised to the VA about other systems hosted on Salesforce, the same platform as VIEWS. Salesforce is only considered suitable for hosting “moderate-risk” data, and on June 8, 2021, the VA-OIG issued an audit that included several pages on how one particular VA system should not have been hosted on Salesforce.15 According to the report: “The lower security setting [of Salesforce] has weaker access controls and potentially jeopardizes the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive information related to veterans and their caregivers.”16 The VA-OIG concluded: “Given the sensitivity of veteran and caregiver information…, stricter system security controls are needed to reduce the risks of unauthorized use or disclosure. The confidentiality, integrity, and availability of protected health information, personally identified information, and other sensitive information require greater protections.”17

AVOIDING ACCOUNTABILITY: VA DELAYS PROBE AND REPORT

The VA has long been criticized for its treatment of whistleblowers.18 The VA has had an extremely low settlement rate in whistleblower cases in recent years,19 and many of the cases which proceed to the Merit Systems Protection Board hinge on whether the agency had knowledge of an appellant’s protected disclosures. VIEWS constitutes a system of records in which supervisors can store and share information about whistleblowers and their disclosures without accountability.

This means that VA whistleblowers’ confidential protected disclosures can be discovered in VIEWS by numerous potential retaliators.

On August 2, 2022, the independent U.S. Office of Special Counsel (“OSC”) found that whistleblower disclosures about the misuse of VIEWS and lack of controls had “include[d] information sufficient for OSC to determine…there is a substantial likelihood of wrongdoing,” and referred the disclosures to the VA for investigation, with a report required 60 days later.20

Yet under Secretary McDonough and Tanya Bradsher’s leadership, the VA has requested extensions every 60 days since then, repeatedly punting its obligations to investigate and report to OSC on these serious whistleblower disclosures. Its latest request for an extension, made on June 1, would delay a response to the whistleblower disclosures until August 1. Yet, in the ten months since the referral to the VA, there has apparently been no progress whatsoever in correcting the problems. According to additional whistleblower disclosures as recently as this month, June 2023, the private information of veterans, whistleblowers, and your constituents is still widely, insecurely, and improperly accessible in VIEWS—vulnerable to compromise.

QUESTIONS FOR THE NOMINEE

Before any vote on her confirmation in Committee or on the floor, there should be a public record of her answers to key questions about these controversies, and the Committee should conduct a serious investigation into them that requires the VA to produce relevant documents.

At a minimum to inform their decision on how to vote responsibly, Senators should obtain much more information about Ms. Bradsher’s role in:

  1. Stonewalling Senator Grassley’s inquiries about conflicts of interest—which were later substantiated by the VA-OIG—and whistleblower retaliation at the VA.
  • Failing to mitigate conflicts of interest of senior VA officials, failing to remedy whistleblower retaliation, and failing to hold others accountable for those issues.
  • Failing to protect veterans’ private health information and confidential whistleblower disclosures from misuse and improper exposure in VIEWS.
  • Failing to notify victims, other agencies, and Congress of these privacy breaches.
  • Delaying the VA’s required investigation and report on whistleblower disclosures about these issues to OSC beyond the likely timeframe of her confirmation proceedings.

Any confirmation process should be rigorous and thorough—not merely a rubber stamp. The Committee owes it to the public veterans, and fellow Senators to ensure that they are fully informed before exercising their constitutional advice and consent function. Accordingly, we respectfully urge you to probe these issues more deeply and publicly report on your findings before scheduling any further consideration of this nominee.

Sincerely,

/Tristan Leavitt/          /Jacqueline Garrick/

Tristan Leavitt Jacqueline Garrick

President         Founder

Empower Oversight    Whistleblowers of America

Footnotes

1 See, e.g., letter from Senator Charles Grassley, U.S. Senate, to Secretary Dennis McDonough, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Apr. 2, 2021 (available at https://www.grassley.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/grassley_to_dept.ofveteransaffairsvbaethicsmarketinfoleaks.pdf); letter from Senator Charles Grassley, U.S. Senate, to Inspector General Michael J. Missal, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, Apr. 2, 2021 (available at https://www.grassley.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/grassley_to_va_inspector_general_ethics_market_info_leaks.pdf); letter from Senator Charles Grassley, U.S. Senate, to Acting Chairwoman Herren Lee, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Apr. 2, 2021 (available at https://www.grassley.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/grassley_to_securities_exchange_commission_vba_ethics_market_info_leaks.pdf).

2 Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, “Veterans Benefits Administration, Education Service: Former Education Service Executive Violated Ethics Rules and Her Duty to Cooperate Fully with the OIG,” Report #21-02076-119 (Mar. 24, 2022); Fred Lucas, “Watchdog Confirms Senator’s Unanswered Suspicions About VA Official’s Conflict of Interest,” The Daily Signal (Apr. 13, 2022) (available at https://www.dailysignal.com/2022/04/13/va-watchdog-confirms- senators-unanswered-suspicions-about-officials-conflict-of-interest).

3 Press release, “Empower Oversight and Whistleblowers of America Seek Accountability for VA Watchdog’s Findings of Ethical Violations,” Jun. 16, 2022 (available at https://empowr.us/empower-oversight-and-whistleblowers-of-america-seek-accountability-for-va-watchdogs-findings-of-ethical-violations); press release, “VA Allegedly Limited FOIA Searches to Email but Also Uses a Separate Message System,” Sep. 26, 2022 (available at https://empowr.us/va-allegedly- limited-foia-searches-to-email-but-also-uses-a-separate-message-system).

4 Senator Charles Grassley, Questions for the Record for Joshua Jacobs, Nominee, Under Secretary for Benefits, Department of Veterans Affairs (available at https://www.grassley.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/grassley_questions_for_the_record_to_joshua_jacobs_veterans_affairs_undersecretary_for_benefits_nominee.p  df); Joshua Jacobs Responses, Questions for the Record from Senator Charles Grassley (Mar. 2, 2023) (available at https://www.grassley.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/joshua_jacobs_responses_to_grassley_questions_for_the_record_veterans_affairs_undersecretary_for_benefits

_nominee.pdf); 169 Cong. Rec. S770 (2023) (statement of Senator Charles Grassley, Mar. 14, 2023); see also Benjamin Krause, “‘Evasive Answers’ From VA Undersecretary For Benefits Nominee Holds Up Confirmation,” DisabledVeterans.org (Apr. 21, 2023) (available at https://www.disabledveterans.org/nominee-va- undersecretary-for-benefits).

5 Joshua Jacobs Responses, Questions for the Record from Senator Charles Grassley, 4-5 (Mar. 2, 2023) (available at

https://www.grassley.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/joshua_jacobs_responses_to_grassley_questions_for_the_record_veterans_affairs_undersecretary_for_benefits_nominee.pdf).

6 Id; see also “Newly Uncovered Documents Show Senior VA Officials Smearing a Whistleblower to Avoid Congressional Oversight,” Whistleblower Network News (Oct. 25, 2021) (available at https://whistleblowersblog.org/opinion/newly-uncovered-documents-show-senior-va-officials-smearing-a-whistleblower-to- avoid-congressional-oversight).

7 Id.

8 LinkedIn.com, Joshua Jacobs (https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshua-jacobs-509b3462) (last accessed Jun. 9, 2023).

9 See, e.g., Exhibit 1.

10 Department of Veterans Affairs Responses to Questions from Senator Charles Grassley (draft) (Apr. 2021), available at https://empowr.us/wp- content/uploads/2023/01/33-1_Exhibit-B.pdf; see also press release, “Empower Oversight Obtains Documents VA Failed to Disclose in Conflicts Case; Notifies Court,” Jan. 31, 2023 (available at https://empowr.us/empower-oversight-obtains-documents-va-failed-to-disclose-in-conflicts-case-notifies-court); press release, “Empower Oversight Opposes Efforts to Hide Documents from the Public on Congressional Oversight of VA Conflicts,” Feb. 21, 2023 (available at https://empowr.us/empower-oversight-opposes-efforts-to-hide-documents-from-the-public-on-congressional-oversight-of-va-conflicts).

11 Testimony of Tonya Bradsher before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (May 31, 2023).

12 Statement of Peter C. Rizzo Concerning VA’s Internal Correspondence Tracking System: VIEWS, May 29, 2023 (Exhibit 2).

13 Id. at 1.

14 Id. at 1-2.

15 Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, “Veterans Health Administration: Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers: IT System Development Challenges Affect Expansion,” Report #20-00178-24 (Jun. 8, 2021).

16 Id. at v.

17 Id. at 22.

18 See, e.g., Government Accountability Office, GAO-18-137, “Department of Veterans Affairs: Actions Needed to Address Employee Misconduct Process and Ensure Accountability,” Jul. 2018; see also Highlights (available at https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-18-137) (“Whistleblowers were 10 times more likely than their peers to receive disciplinary action within a year of reporting misconduct.”).

19 Government Accountability Office, GAO-23-106111, “VA Whistleblowers: Resolution Process for Retaliation Claims,” 25, May 3, 2023 (“From fiscal years 2018 to 2022, less than 1 percent of whistleblower retaliation cases involving VA employees were closed due to a settlement agreement…”). Earlier GAO work

20 Letter from U.S. Office of Special Counsel, Re: OSC File No. DI-22-000680, Aug. 2, 2022 (Exhibit 3); see also https://osc.gov/Services/Pages/DU.aspx.

Conclusion – Rubber Stamp

Wow, this is a lot of information.

It took me about 6 hours to collate the data, think about it, and write the article.

Six hours.

Meanwhile, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee does appear to be rubber-stamping the current class of nominees for leadership positions within the agency.

Who is responsible for nominee research?

As a veteran and veterans rights attorney, I am sick of seeing our elected officials seemingly go along to get along rather than represent the interests of the Committee’s constituency.

How about you?

Similar Posts

6 Comments

  1. Follow the money;
    “ACORN OPERATING COMPANY, LLC” has filed for bankruptcy. They are recalling all their medications (52 according to the letter) and the VA is telling patients to call their pharmacies.
    My question is;
    What happened to all the money?

  2. This is all fine just a waste of effort especially with attempting to communicate with democrats, they care less about us. Writing to Senator Tester is as bad if not worse as would be talking to Biden. Senator Tester hates VETERANS. Example, I a 100% disabled veteran having served for 37 years wrote many letters 46 to be accurate, asking for help with my local VA institution. NOT ONE LETTER WAS RESPONDED TO!! What does that say about him. Now comes the good part, my wife and I were having coffee in a small uptown cafe, which was across the street from Tester’s office, unaware after I ordered our coffee I turned around and who was standing behind me, Senator Tester in the fat flesh, I then stated , your are Jon Tester, he answered, yes, I am. I then told him of all the letters sent to him for help with the VA and that he never responded to they. I asked him why he does not help Veterans. No response, a few minutes later his local liaison for the state of Montana, came to my table saying she would like to look into my situation and that she would contact me no later than a week in the future. Of yes she and Tester responded to me request for help ok. Tester sent me a written letter on his Washington DC letterhead stating that I was NEVER TO CONTACT HIS OFFICE OR ANY OF HIS STAFF EVER AGAIN AND IF I DID HE WOULD TAKE ACTION AGAINST ME FOR HARASSMENT!!!@!!
    Is this what the Chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs position should be or should it have been how can I assist you in my capacity as Chairman. I still have this letter in hand if anyone wants copies.
    Now with this information in hand does anyone even remotely think anyone will do anything concerns fixing this ROGUE Agency call the Veterans Administration, I challenge anyone to say yes to this article, thinking anyone would do anything to fix the issues.

  3. Somewhere around the 9 minute mark in the confirmation hearing, Bradsher claims she will only deploy the new EHR when it is fully operational and ready. The questions about VIEWS is still a big gaping hole though and worthy of a 3rd party risk assessment/pen test. Can we assume that Bradsher will hold VA CIO Kurt Delbene accountable for these major system vulnerabilities?

Comments are closed.