Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, called a Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General (OIG) report that the VA manipulates data on patient waiting times "disturbing." Chairman Akaka requested the investigation earlier this year as part of his commitment to increased oversight of VA.
"Today, I received disturbing news from VA's Inspector General that VA continues to skew its outpatient reports. The IG found that waiting times were understated and incomplete. This is simply not acceptable.
I am concerned that VA's underreporting of waiting times and backlog volumes makes it harder to identify problem facilities and allocate resources effectively. I believe that decision making, resource allocation, and performance evaluations should be based solely on reliable data.
It is also disturbing that VA is refusing to concur with the all of the findings and recommendations made by the IG."
VA claims that 96 percent of all veterans seeking primary care and 95 percent of all veterans seeking specialty care were seen within 30 days of their desired dates. However, OIG looked at 700 appointments for which VA claimed that veterans had waited 30 days or less, and found that veterans had in fact waited 30 days or less for only 75 percent of them.
Additionally, OIG found VA's electronic waiting lists to be incomplete, with 10 facilities understating their lists by up to 53,531 veterans, of whom 62 percent had been waiting more than 30 days for their appointments to be scheduled.
The OIG report is available at www.va.gov/oig.