WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today pressed an administration official on the steps being taken to address the lack of accountability within the Department of Veterans Affairs in light of the agency’s repeated failure to clean up widespread misconduct, malpractice and scheduling manipulation dating as far back as April 2010.
In a hearing held by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on the state of veterans’ health care, Sen. Isakson told Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson that he is “not satisfied that the VA’s culture is any different now than it has been.”
“The pervasive culture of cooking the books for personal benefit such as pay raises is absolutely inexcusable,” Isakson stated during his opening remarks.
Isakson pointed to a failure by VA to address the inappropriate practices and scheduling manipulations described in a 2010 memo to VA Network Directors, noting that senior leadership in the VA knew for more than four years about many of the problems that have come to light in recent weeks.
“The problems we are now trying to fix lasted four more years within the VA because there was a culture of looking the other way when there was a criticism or there was accountability in place,” said Isakson.
“I have become personally convinced that this begins and ends with a failure of senior leadership in the VA for years to overlook the manipulation of numbers to make things look better than they really were…” he continued. “We are going to have to see to it that the culture of the VA changes so that we have accountability from top to bottom in the senior leadership and management of the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
Isakson has long been outspoken on the issue of veterans’ health care, calling for improved transparency and accountability within the VA.
Isakson also serves as a Senate negotiator to the House-Senate conference committee working to reach an agreement on VA reform legislation aimed at improving the quality and timeliness of care at VA health care facilities across the country.