Washington, D.C. ? Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Ranking Member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, today called upon the President to send forward a supplemental funding bill for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to cover hospital costs and data protection activities. The Inspector General (IG) today released its report requested by Senator Akaka showing that VA hospitals and clinics are deferring critical maintenance projects and equipment purchases because of pending budget shortfalls.
"Some VA hospitals are facing substantial shortfalls, and in other hospitals, managers are quite fearful about the lean days ahead. The net result is that needed projects ? like the renovation of cardiology clinics and the replacement of air handling units in surgical suites ? are not getting done," said Senator Akaka.
The VA IG found that managers have withheld 91% of the funding that could be available for non-recurring maintenance projects. Additional money is being held back for equipment replacements, such as MRI machines.
Despite the recovery of stolen data on the personal information of millions of veterans, VA still will have substantial costs associated with shoring up its systems to protect veterans against data theft. The Administration is seeking to cut important government-wide programs to cover these costs.
"To be on the safe side, VA should continue to pursue a contract with an outside organization to provide identity theft detection of the affected records. We must be vigilant to detect if anyone's personal information has been compromised. But we should not have to cut important programs ? such as the food stamp program ? to do what is necessary."
The IG report requested by Senator Akaka is available at http://www.va.gov/oig/.