(U.S. Senate) – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) recently introduced bipartisan legislation to save taxpayer dollars and increase oversight of major Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) acquisitions and contracts.
The Senators’ Acquisition Review Board and Cost Assessment Act of 2023 would create an oversight board to review major VA acquisitions early in VA’s decision making process and if a contract is not in compliance.
“We’ve always got to ensure that VA is protecting taxpayer dollars and getting a good return on their investments,” said Chairman Tester. “The challenges we’ve experienced with the new electronic health record system and other major contracts have made clear we need better oversight of major VA contracts before they’re made. That’s why Senator Moran and I are introducing our bipartisan legislation to establish an acquisitions review board that will help ensure VA is being a good steward of Americans’ taxpayer dollars when it comes to programs that serve veterans.”
“The VA offers hundreds of services to veterans around the country, and this requires practical tools to carry out its mission,” said Ranking Member Moran. “This legislation will help ensure that the procurement of goods and services at the Department of Veterans Affairs is carried out responsibly, efficiently and effectively to support veterans and prudently spend taxpayer dollars.”
VA awards large contracts for products and services to assist in the delivery of health care to more than nine million veterans, distribute benefits to 5.5 million veterans, and operate more than 150 cemeteries. The review board and cost assessment program evaluation established by this legislation is critical to ensuring there is additional oversight and accountability over the Department’s major contracts and acquisitions from the planning stage through the complete lifecycle of the contract, in order to protect taxpayers. VA programs that have experienced significant challenges include the Electronic Health Record Modernization program, the replacement of VA’s financial and accounting system, and VA’s modernization of its human resources services—which have been documented by multiple VA Office of Inspector General and Government Accountability Office reports and Congressional oversight hearings.