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Dan Gilmore / February 29, 2016

OSC Report: VA IG Didn’t Protect Whistleblowers

The VA’s office of inspector general needs to face consequences.

In government, who watches the watchers? When it comes to the inspector generals established to hunt down waste, fraud and abuse in government offices, it’s the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. OSC reviewed the job the inspector general of the Veterans Affairs Administration did in investigating the secret waiting list scandal and the results are wanting. Instead of rooting out the problem in the bureaucracy, the inspector general tried to discredit the VA employees who came forward.

In a letter to Barack Obama, OSC head Carolyn Lerner wrote, “The OIG investigations that the VA submitted in response to both referrals are incomplete. They do not respond to the issues that the whistleblowers raised. The OIG investigations found evidence to support the whistleblowers’ allegations that employees were using separate spreadsheets outside of the VA’s electronic scheduling and patient records systems. However, the OIG largely limited its review to determining whether these separate spreadsheets were ‘secret.’” When the VA inspector general contacted the whistleblowers, instead of protecting them, they were hostile, trying to discredit the allegations. This is the same inspector general who is trying to protect the VA by delaying the release of the long-awaited report on the secret wait times. Like the VA employees that set veterans on secret lists where some of them died waiting for care, the VA’s office of inspector general needs to face the consequences for what it did.

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