Rather than holding the Department of Veterans Affairs accountable for their lies and neglect, the inspector general’s office has decided to punish the whistleblowers who were brave enough to speak out.
Oversight officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to properly investigate medical misconduct allegations at multiple VA hospitals and issued reports that attempted to discredit and attack whistleblowers, according to a review by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.
In 2014, the Office of Special Counsel asked the VA inspector general’s office to look into claims of “secret waiting lists” at two veterans hospitals after receiving whistleblower complaints. Employees at the facilities claimed veterans would often be forced to wait months or longer for appointments, but this information was kept outside of the VA’s official electronic records system so that administrators could dodge federal requirements and take home cash bonuses.
Not only did the investigation fail to actually investigate the accusations, but its efforts were focused on punishing the whistleblowers instead.
According to Lerner, the VA inspector general’s office found evidence supporting the allegations that hospital employees were keeping separate lists of patients outside the VA’s official electronic system. But she said the office decided to focus its investigation on whether these outside lists were considered “secret,” under a very narrow definition of the term. Because employees at the VA hospitals knew about the lists, the inspector general’s office determined they were not “secret.”
…Christopher Shea Wilkes, a social worker at Overton Brooks, said he was contacted by the inspector general’s office after he complained about the off-the-books waiting lists at the facility. He said he first thought the investigators were looking into his allegations but found out they were actually conducting a criminal probe into how he obtained the list and whether he had shared it with anyone. The whistleblower at the Hines VA hospital, social worker Germaine Clarno, was also subjected to attacks, according to the Office of Special Counsel review.
“Finally, the content and the tenor of the report OIG prepared demonstrate hostility toward Ms. Clarno apparently for having spoken publicly, as well as an attempt to minimize her allegations,” the special counsel said.
There you have it, folks. When it comes to the Department of Veterans Affairs (or any federal bureaucracy, for that matter) preserving their delicate egos will always come before the needs of our veterans and citizens.