CVA to Congress: VA Has Management Problems, Not Lack of Resources
Arlington, VA — Today the House Veterans Affairs Committee will meet at 2PM to discuss the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) budget for FY2018 and 2019. VA Secretary David Shulkin will provide remarks.
Secretary Shulkin’s original VA budget proposal for FY2018 largely continued Obama-era patterns of increasing resources without a serious mind to outcomes for veterans. It proposed $800 million for construction, despite ongoing problems with the VA’s construction programs and a clear lack of oversight, as well as $6.5 billion for existing medical facility leases, maintenance, and other costs – a $1.2 billion increase from FY2017.
Recently, Secretary Shulkin has asked Congress for the ability to transfer existing department funds into the Choice Program, which he says will dry up by mid-August.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“The past few years have demonstrated that the VA’s problems are rooted in mismanagement and bureaucracy, not a lack of resources. Lawmakers should remind themselves that the enormous budget increases under the Obama administration did not yield positive outcomes for veterans. Instead of throwing more money at the problem, the VA budget now should reflect a new era of efficiency, customer focus, and fiscal responsibility.
“The money to fund the Choice Program can be found across existing funds in the department, and we encourage Congress to quickly pass legislation that will allow Secretary Shulkin to transfer those funds in. Ultimately, this flawed Choice Program needs to be overhauled so more permanent reforms can take place and veterans can stop worrying about whether or not they’ll be able to get the care they need every year.”
CVA has applauded Secretary Shulkin for taking positive steps towards efficiency within the department. Earlier this week, Shulkin announced a plan to dispose of or reuse all its vacant buildings within 2 years. He also recently announced that he was leaving thousands of unnecessary positions unfilled at the VA, citing the need for a “leaner” and “more accountable” department.