VA wastes $6m on two training conferences

| October 1, 2012

I know there are several of you waiting for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to rule on your benefits. You’ll be happy to know that they’re hard at wok spending that money you should have received months ago on a couple of training conferences according to Stars & Stripes.

About 1,800 VA employees attended the two professional development conferences, held in July and August 2011. Investigators said the conferences appeared to be legitimate training opportunities, but noted that senior leaders “accepted little responsibility for financial stewardship” in spending more than $6 million for the two events.

Among the more egregious expenses were $50,000 for a conference video parodying the move “Patton,” $98,000 for promotional items such as tote bags and thumb drives, $37,000 for questionable travel expenses for VA employees and $43,000 in extra pay for staff running the events.

But, oh, don’t worry, the guy, Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration John Sepulveda, who was responsible has resigned and two more employees are on administrative leave during the investigation. And the Secretary is sorry they got caught splurging on the two events;

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced he will appoint a panel of senior officials to review the case and recommend appropriate administrative action against other employees involved in the conference planning.

Yeah, how about getting back that six million bucks for the veterans who deserve it more than a bunch of pampered bureaucrats, there, Eric.

Investigators also said that Sepulveda told them under oath that he had no prior knowledge of some of the expenses, including the costly “Patton” video produced by an outside contractor. Other VA employees contradicted that, saying he not only viewed the video but even suggested changes to it just days before the first conference.

Department of Justice officials have declined to prosecute Sepulveda for perjury, investigators said.

Yeah, let’s not screw up someone’s life over something so trivial. You know, like veterans’ lives are screwed up by the mismanagement of funds. But we’re supposed to believe that they’ve scrubbed the phonies from their rolls, because just because they lie to investigators and cover up for it, they’d never lie to the public or Congress.

Category: Politics

Comments (17)

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  1. Now I know why I got a bill from them knuckelheads…they needed the money to pay for this shit.

  2. OWB says:

    Heads should not only roll over this but people should spend a LOT of time in jail.

    Will someone please tell me that we are in a nightmare and will be waking up soon?

  3. Virtual Insanity says:

    Please just show us it made a positive difference, ferchrissake.

    Also, thumb drives? Are they allowed to use thumbdrives at work? We aren’t in DoD.

    Although thumbdrives would allow them to better distribute veterans’ PII accidentally.

  4. SJ says:

    Shinseki is like hemorrhoids.

  5. Dave Thul says:

    Anyone want to bet that the panel General Beret appoints will get paid overtime or their new duties?

  6. SJ says:

    Shinseki is like herpes.

  7. Peggy says:

    Most VAs are using the “Sanctuary” software that will only allow “authorized” peripherals (e.g. thumb drives issued and owned by the VA, but not personal ones, signature pads that IRMS has installed, etc.) and are very hard to get your hands on if you are on employee. Unless you work for Human Resources it seems. From the employee side of things, HR tends to be the most unhelpful service in the VHA with new hires taking months to have all of the necessary prep work completed to be brought on board (3-4 months from the day a person accepts a job is considered to be unheard of fast at some VAs). Even people transferring from another VA it can take them more than a month to process.

  8. Ptolemy in Egypt says:

    Sepulveda = Obama appointee, but you won’t see that in many news reports about the scandal. Also a real good reason why DOJ is disinclined to pursue criminal charges for lying to the investigators.

    For all the talk certain sides in the debate make about the “rich” and “wasteful spending” they seem to get their hands caught in the public cookie jar a lot.

    Just saying…

  9. Tman says:

    The VA bureaucracy has been so broke dick for so long, no one could possibly have come remotely close to “fixing” it. Not that general black beret is blameless of course.

  10. Open Channel D says:

    I retired in March, but my physical was done in November 2011. According to the latest update from the VA, I can expect a disposition between Nov 2013 and July 2014.

  11. Nik says:

    I think the VA training was a wonderous success. It amply conveyed the VA’s values.

    “Thou shalt wasteth monies at every turn.”

  12. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    The city of Phoenix has a list of mandatory PC classes required for all employees and now they won’t even buy refreshments!?!

  13. Lobster says:

    Shit like this really fries my ass. When I was a DA civilian for MEDCOM, we couldn’t even get money for job required training. I wonder where and how they get this money allotted in their budget?

  14. USMCE8Ret2012 says:

    Will there be any oversight in the future like we were promised after GSA’s little trip to Vegas? This sounds SO much like it. Big government is wonderful, ain’t it?

  15. lucky says:

    They want to spend $6M, but can’t hire disabled Veterans into the VA? Seriously? Fuckers!

  16. skh.pcola says:

    Due to some adversities, I had to cancel my last VA appointment. I had been in the system for years, but I couldn’t get back in for another appointment. I called up back in May to schedule one and was told that I wasn’t even in the system any longer and that I would have to appear in person and reapply. I was still getting my VA disabilty, though.

    I went the next day, filled out the necessary papers, signed on the lines, and was told that in 4-6 weeks I’d get a letter in the mail and a phone call advising me of my doctor assignment. That was 5 months ago. I call them every couple of weeks and they just say that I’m in the pipeline and that they are backed up.