More than 6,000 workers hired at medical facilities by the Department of Veterans Affairs did not receive proper background checks, according to a VA inspector general report.
According to the report, roughly 6,200 workers who were employed in the five years leading up to September 2016 did not undergo mandatory background checks, which are supposed to be conducted within 14 days of employment.
“Due to the lack of governance and oversight of the personnel suitability program, VA cannot reliably attest to the suitability of its largest workforce, exposing veterans and employees to individuals who have not been properly vetted,” the IG report said. “Unless controls are implemented and data are improved, VA and the public lack assurance that VHA [Veterans Health Administration] has a properly investigated workforce appropriate for providing health care to our nation’s veterans.”
Investigators faulted the VA’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Operations, Security and Preparedness (OSP) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) for the oversight.
OSP is working to reduce the number of delinquent cases to 2,500 by October 2018.
“In addition, the OIG determined that suitability staff had not been consistently adjudicating background investigations within the 90-day requirement,” according to the report. “Overall, the OIG projected that about 10,400 cases (13 percent) were not adjudicated in a timely manner.”
In some cases, there were employees who had been working in the department for years before having a background check.
“At the VA Long Beach Healthcare System, the OIG identified 47 cases that exceeded the 90-day timeliness requirement. Processing times ranged from 124 to 2,312 days to complete and averaged 1,153 days,” the report said.