WASHINGTON D.C. – Representatives Dave Joyce (OH-14), Steve Womack (AR-03), Lauren Underwood (IL-14), and Chris Pappas (NH-01) recently re-introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen oversight and accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA Office of Inspector General Training Act of 2023 requires VA employees to complete trainings from VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) so that staff are fully informed on how to report waste, fraud and abuse, and participate in whistleblower processes and investigations.
“The men and women who have selflessly served our country in uniform deserve the highest quality of care, but that can only happen if the VA is operating efficiently and being held accountable to the veterans they serve,” said Congressman Joyce. “This bipartisan bill will ensure this happens by requiring training for VA employees on reporting waste, fraud, and abuse. With this additional oversight, our veterans will be better served, and taxpayer money will be better spent.”
“Timely and accurate reporting is the most effective way to ensure our veterans receive the top-tier care they deserve. The complete lack of accountability by leaders at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center just a couple years ago resulted in inexcusable mistreatment and deaths of veterans. This crucial bill will require training for proper oversight so our veterans and their loved ones can put their full trust in VA medical providers. I thank my fellow Arkansan, Senator Boozman, for his leadership on the companion legislation,” said Congressman Womack.
“In Congress, I’m dedicated to strengthening VA and ensuring that it provides the world-class care and benefits that our veterans deserve,” said Congresswoman Underwood. “I introduced the VA OIG Training Act to improve the Inspector General’s oversight initiatives and require VA employees to learn how to report wrongdoing. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation promotes a culture of integrity and accountability at VA, protects taxpayer dollars, and supports VA staff as they provide essential care and benefits for veterans.”
“The VA Office of the Inspector General plays a critical role in helping curtail waste, fraud, and abuse at VA, but as my office has heard from VA employees in New Hampshire, many VA staff are unaware of the services they provide,” said Congressman Pappas. “The VA OIG Training Act will increase awareness of these services, reassure VA employees that they will be protected if they report wrongdoing, and return that investment back to VA by protecting both our veterans and taxpayer dollars.”
VA’s OIG works to improve the efficiency and integrity of VA operations. The VA OIG’s effectiveness depends on the participation of VA employees; early and accurate reporting by staff can save patients’ lives, ensure veterans receive benefits and services, and recoup billions of dollars. In 2021, VA Secretary Denis McDonough signed a directive requiring all VA employees complete an OIG training, but future secretaries could roll back this requirement.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General Training Act of 2023 would:
- Require every current and future VA employee to participate in a training from VA’s OIG about reporting to and cooperating with the OIG.
- Ensure that the VA’s OIG training includes information about:
- Mechanisms for reporting fraud, waste, abuse, and other wrongdoing at the VA.
- Protections for VA employees who report wrongdoing to the OIG.
- Opportunities to strengthen OIG programs, operations, and services to ensure the OIG can provide effective oversight, reduce fraud, and protect taxpayer dollars.
Congressman Joyce serves as the Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence.