(U.S. Senate) – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester today met with Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, the government’s top watchdog, to discuss improving accountability and oversight at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). GAO issues dozens of oversight reports about VA each year with recommendations to improve services and protect taxpayer funds.
“Our veterans deserve a VA system that delivers for them, and a key part of that is ensuring we have the best leaders and employees serving these men and women,” said Tester. “That starts with ensuring accountability and transparency are at the forefront of VA’s mission to provide health care and benefits to veterans, and that the Department uses the tools it has to root out misconduct, waste, fraud, and abuse. GAO has been a partner in shining a light on areas where VA needs to improve, and I look forward to continue working together to increase oversight at VA.”
In their meeting, Tester highlighted his concerns with VA management and leadership structures. He questioned Comptroller General Dodaro on structural changes VA could undertake to improve individual and organizational accountability, management, and catching waste, fraud, or abuse. The Chairman also underscored keeping a close eye on VA’s Electronic Health Record Modernization program and discussed additional steps to improve the timely delivery of veterans’ health care and benefits.
As Chairman, Tester is leading the charge to increase accountability and oversight at VA. In August, the Senator introduced his bipartisan Leadership, Engagement, Accountability, and Development (LEAD) Act of 2023 to reform VA’s oversight and accountability processes to improve the Department’s ability to take action against VA leaders and employees who have engaged in misconduct or poor performance. The LEAD Act’s provisions draw on the findings of dozens of VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) and GAO reports and years of Congressional hearings and oversight work documenting recurring gaps in VA’s oversight. Among the bills many provisions, it would put into law the recommendations and findings of GAO’s recent review of VA’s Office of Medical Inspector—establishing accountability mechanisms to improve oversight of VA health care.
Since 2019, the Chairman has requested more than 20 reports or reviews by GAO of VA or veterans services.