Arlington, VA – Today Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin will announce his department’s 2018 budget request. Tomorrow, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will review the request in a hearing.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“The VA has a lot of problems, but a lack of resources is not one of them. The department has little to show for its annual budget increases and has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to properly manage taxpayer funds. We’ve been impressed by Secretary Shulkin’s push to make the VA more efficient through common-sense solutions like shutting down empty facilities, but his budget proposal for 2018 should also reflect that mentality. As they consider the administration’s VA budget proposal, we urge elected officials to remember that strong accountability measures are what will fix the department. Throwing even more money at the problems will not help.”
CVA has applauded Secretary Shulkin’s efforts to increase efficiency at the VA. At a House hearing earlier this month, Secretary Shulkin stated that he had identified hundreds of empty or under-utilized VA buildings costing the federal government $25 million annually. He said that he would work with Congress in prioritizing buildings for closure. An internal VA report showed that of the 431 completely vacant VA buildings, most were built nearly a century ago or more. Secretary Shulkin 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.
The VA has consistently demonstrated an inability to properly manage taxpayer resources. Last year, a watchdog report found that VA leaders ignored multiple warnings about cost overruns while constructing a VA hospital in Aurora, Colorado. The overruns totaled nearly $1.7 billion dollars and delayed the institution of a much-needed VA hospital. In July of 2016, a separate watchdog report found that the VA spent almost $20 million on expensive artwork and sculptures during a healthcare scandal that involved thousands of veterans dying while waiting to see doctors. The report found numerous frivolous expenditures on artwork, including six-figure sculptures at facilities for the blind.