The Veteran’s Affairs Department Inspector General has reported a wild and sad tale of an unidentified ratings service representative in Nashville, Tenn., who among other things “downloaded Skype software onto his agency laptop for sexting close personal friends.”
At the same time this unnamed Veterans Benefit Administration employee had the unofficial backing of a supervisor for a new job at the Washington-based VA Center for Innovation, and that supervisor “engaged in a prohibited personnel practice” to help him land him the D.C. job.
The innovation center was created in 2010 “to transform VA into a 21st century people-centric, results-driven and forward looking organization.”
Between 2011 and 2013 the Nashville employee racked up over $100,000 in travel charges to and from Washington to work on the VA “Fast Track” claims processing program, and the VA IG found the Nashville employee misused about $31,000 in VA travel funds.
Questionable travel charges for this employee included “multiple valet hotel parking charges between October 2012 and January 2013, although [he] did not rent a car during these trips,” the IG said.
In September 2011, the Nashville employee changed his departure from Reagan National to Dulles International Airport at an additional cost of $383 because “he wanted to attend a horse show near Dulles,” the IG said. VA requires employees who travel by train go coach class, but in October 2011 the Nashville employee upgraded to business class at an extra cost of $159, and then claimed this as a D.C. Metro expense.
And how about that sexting on a VA computer? The Nashville employee told the IG he was “out of control” when he downloaded the Skype software to support his sexting habit.
VA management told the IG that they are taking steps to ensure that all of the above will never happen again.
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