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VA Budget Increases: You Won’t Believe What They’re Doing With The Money

VA Conferences
May 19, 2014

In response to the VA waiting list scandal, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has repeated a talking point that the administration has increased the VA budget significantly. That maybe more like the cause of the problem than the solution the nation wants.

The Pentagon and VA spent at least $1.3 billion on an interoperative electronic health records system, only to scrap it.

The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have spent at least $1.3 billion during the last four years in an unsuccessful effort to develop an interoperable electronic health record system, according to an investigation by News21, the Center for Public Integrity reports (Winston, Center for Public Integrity, 8/27).

According to the President’s VA budget request, 2015 is the sixth year in a row that the President has requested a significant funding increase for VA.

YearDiscretionary Budget
2009$50.6 B
2010$55.9 B
2011$59.1 B
2012$61.3 B
2013$64.2 B
2014$66.3 B
2015$68.4 B
 The 2015 Budget request reflects a 35.2% increase in discretionary budget since 2009 with a 3.0% increase over 2014 request.For that money, the department is coming up with innovative methods to keep Congress unaware of how long veterans have to wait to be seen.In addition, the Washington Free Beacon reports that during the time from 2009 to the present, the VA has spent about $500 million on office furniture:

The VA has spent a total of $489 million to upgrade conference rooms, buy draperies, and purchase new office furniture during the past four-and-a-half years.

A total of 15,010 contracts were awarded for office furniture by the VA for Fiscal Years 2010 through 2014.

If they can spend that much on he problem with the VA is clearly not a lack of money.

Notable expenditures  include:

 $454,085 for “cubical curtains and draperies” for the Brecksville, Ohio, office.

 $106,615 on window treatments for the Los Alamitos unit.

The California office spent  $1.7 million  on a filing system.  Free Beacon points out that Obama’s FY 2015 budget included $138.7 million in Veteran Claims Intake Program for the conversion of paper documents into eFolders, to eliminate the need for paper filing. There will always need to be paper filing for the massive alternative waiting lists maintained by the VA.

Despite the massive and unending budget increases, the VA continues to spend money on office furniture and window treatments, while buying filing systems to hide their huge backlog of false appointment notices. Giving the VA more money doesn’t seem to encourage them to be effective with it.