The previous acting Inspector General Richard Griffin retired on July 4, 2015. Before him, George Opfer retired in 2013. However, the OIG has been without a formally selected leader for some years. Perhaps those responsible for selecting a formal replacement were unable to find a person willing to take on rampant agency fraud revealed in 2014 with the wait list scandal, opioid scandal, and numerous other scandals.
Currently, Assistant Inspector for Audits Linda Halliday is appointed to lead VA OIG until a replacement is found. I used to be a fan of Halliday until I saw her strategically nodding during the September VA OIG whitewash hearing of Phoenix VA. An inquiry into OIG revealed Sloan Gibson asked VA OIG head Richard Griffin to use deceptive language to make it seem like nothing illegal occurred at Phoenix VA. Shame on them all.
According to Military Times, the White House statement for a new OIG head reads as follows:
“This administration has been committed to strong Inspectors General,” a White House statement read. “The administration also believes strongly in transparency and accountability in government, and inspectors general play a critical role in furthering those objectives.”
Two weeks ago, whistleblower Ryan Honl called out President Barack Obama for failing to appoint a leader to the helm of VA OIG. When Honl asked the President to select someone from outside VA, the President stated such a selection would violate current law.
Let’s assume VA OIG can redeem itself somehow under the right leadership. What series of events would it take to redeem its credibility? Can VA OIG become the “watchdog” it purports to be?