recommended reading

Committee Skeptical of Extra VA Funding, Citing Ballooning Staff Size

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla. // J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee expressed reluctance today to approve a $17.6 billion Veterans Affairs supplemental funding request for additional clinical staff and expanded facilities, in part, because the size of the Veterans Health Administration’s central office staff jumped more than tenfold from the mid-1990s to 2012.

Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson testified before the committee the extra funding he requested last week will go a long way toward resolving resource issues that have left veterans seeking care stuck in wait-list limbo.

An article published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, written by Dr. Ken Kizer who served as VA undersecretary for health in the 1990s, and Dr. Ashish K. Jha, who works in the Boston VA hospital, reported, “Inadequate numbers of primary care providers, aged facilities, overly complicated scheduling processes, and other difficult challenges have thwarted the VA's efforts to meet soaring demand for services.”

But Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the committee, said he would not buy in to the administration's budget request based on that same article. The size of the central VHA office, which oversees “nearly every aspect of care delivery,” has “grown markedly — from about 800 in the late 1990s to nearly 11,000 in 2012," the article reported. 

Miller, in his opening statement, said oversight hearings this summer showed VA “has clearly lost sight of its mission and that extra funding requested in the past didn’t go to improving patient care “but toward ancillary pet projects and an ever-growing bureaucracy.” 

The 9,200-person increase in VHA central office staffers since the 1990s illustrates “VA’s shift of focus to building bureaucracy as opposed to fulfilling its duty of providing quality patient care,” Miller added. “VA needs to return to what it was intended to be, a patient-centered-care agency for our veterans.”

Gibson told the committee VA needs the extra funds to hire additional primary-care physicians to help whittle down patient wait times as well as to beef up its staff of mental health care providers. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn, who said he has fully backed every VA budget request while serving on the committee, said he viewed the $17.6 billion extra funding request as “mind boggling” based on the reported growth in the VHA central office staff.

VA, Roe told Gibson, “needs to get better before it get even bigger.”

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    View
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.