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by
Bridget Johnson

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October 7, 2013 - 1:43 pm

Some lawmakers are outraged that as part of federal departments’ use-it-or-lose-it spending sprees before the end of the fiscal year on Oct. 1 the Department of Veterans Affairs blew more than half a million dollars on artwork.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today called on VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to justify the purchase that carried a $562,000 price tag.

“At a time when the nation’s crushing debt threatens the well-being of our veterans and all Americans, and when spending across the government is being reduced, I fail to comprehend the reason why this purchase was authorized,” Moran wrote.

“If the overall fiscal stability of our country is not of sufficient concern, then the VA should have at least prioritized service to veterans who continue to wait inordinate lengths of time to receive decisions on benefit claims,” the letter continued.

Veterans Affairs staff had been working 20 hours of overtime a week to push the number of backlogged claims — pending for more than 125 days — under 500,000, working toward the goal of clearing the backlog by 2015. In 2011 alone, 20,000 veterans died waiting for their claims to be processed.

And there’s also concern that the VA is quickly pounding out claims decisions without adequate investigation simply to clear the backlog of unprocessed claims. In the appeals process sit 250,000 claims with an average processing time of 1,200 days.

“These funds also would have been better spent filling positions in Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Kansas and other rural states where staffing remains an acute problem to which the VA is struggling to respond adequately. Among these and many other problems before the VA, it is very troubling that appropriations were not put to better use,” Moran continued.

Last month, PJM reported that the VA medical facility on the island of St. Thomas has been without a doctor for almost a month — one of the more extreme examples of doctor shortages that have been experienced across the system.

“As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, it is a priority of mine to ensure the well-being of all veterans, which entails providing the VA with the means necessary to care for them. I personally pledged to you both in a public hearing and privately in my office that I am an ally in helping you do your job. I ask that you work to restore my confidence in the VA by ensuring your agency is spending taxpayer money in a responsible, effective manner that best serves the interests of America’s veterans,” Moran wrote.

“I request a justification for the purchase of over a half-million dollars of artwork for the VA and look forward to a timely response.”

Agencies fear if they don’t spend the remainder of their budget on big-ticket purchases before the end of the fiscal year that their budget will get trimmed in the next cycle.

****

What books does Bridget Johnson recommend for 2013? Click here to see her picks at the Freedom Academy Book Club. 

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
use-it-or-lose-it spending sprees have got to stop.

People in government who would rather return the money do not for 2 reasons.

They feel or know that their budget might be cut if they returned money. There might be legitimate reason why they return money one year and yet the next year they need more. But under the current budget psychology if they return money one year, they will get cut when they might actually need an increase.

The second reason is they tell us that people will go to jail if they overspend or at the very least put on the slow track (as in never) for promotion. At every level people hold money in reserve in case their subordinates overspend or have an emergency. Equipment breaks or something. So instead of a level spending plant they take out a cushion 1st and slowly ramp up spending each quarter. Sometimes they spend more 1st quarter than 2nd quarter on training & necessary travel so as to not get scr/wed and get it spend before it is taken away then go on a diet during 2nd quarter. Come the end of 3rd quarter everyone start releasing their reserves kept for emergencies and overspending subordinates. At lower level furniture gets upgrade a lot at years end instead of the 1st 3 quarters. Sometimes whether it is needed or not. Much of the time in the military it is needed. You will see another surge in military training expenditures for peoples skills.

High level mangers can go to jail supposedly for overspending, but the president, cabinet secretaries and congressmen never do
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is worse than stated. The art had to be approved by a commission. The commission exists to give employment to race warriors, gender frontier activists, and other assorted malcontents. They will only approve politically correct art made by politically correct artists. The left will infiltrate any and all institutions and politicize them.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am currently "entitled" to VA medical care. I laughed when the benefits counselor told me that. If I waited for the VA to take care of me, I'd end up like those 20,000 who died waiting for claims to be processed. Even when I have to make co-pays and premium payments for my insurance, I'm better off in the long run. I get taken care of immediately, and I don't have to miss a bunch of work going back and forth to the VA 25 times, burning gas at over $3/gallon, just to get a signature from some pencil pusher or something stupid like that. It sure warms my heart though that those wonks are now surrounded by beautiful art to make their lives more fulfulling....
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (21)
All Comments   (21)
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my best friend's half-sister makes $72/hour on the internet. She has been laid off for 7 months but last month her pay was $17065 just working on the internet for a few hours. view it now........ WWW.Rush64.COM
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
One reform that might work is to have the fiscal year be a year and one quarter, so their is a one quarter overlap between fiscal years. That way there is an incentive to conserve money all year, without getting your budget cut, since you could absorb it spending on routne expenses in the 1st quarter of the next FY, in effect giving yourself a 1 quarter cushion for that coming year. If enough agencies built up this 1 qtr cushion, it would also lead to less panicked requests for emergency suplimentals 9f they run out of money at the end of the FY, since they could just use their 1 qtr cushion first. They could also use the 1 qtr cushion to keep things going during a shutdown.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
as Debbie said I'm impressed that someone able to get paid $4020 in four weeks on the internet.. .......:>WWW.JOBS60.ℂOM
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
just before I looked at the paycheck 4 $7686, I did not believe that my friends brother had been really bringing home money in there spare time from there computar.. there mums best friend has done this 4 only twenty three months and just now cleard the dept on there house and bourt a gorgeous Nissan GT-R:. her latest blog WEP6.ℂℴℳ
Go to website and click Home tab for more details.
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50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
my neighbor's step-aunt makes $65 an hour on the laptop. She has been out of a job for nine months but last month her payment was $13015 just working on the laptop for a few hours. hop over to here.....> WWW.Rush64.COM
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Government is inefficient and wasteful at best and graft-ridden and fraudulent at worst - in everything that they do. $500k for art - ha!, if that bothers you then don't look any deeper or you will really be upset. The stat I just love to quote to Obamacare enthusiasts is that Medicare admits to paying over $50 billion per year in fraudulent claims. That is a much greater sum than the total annual profits by the top 6 or 7 private health care companies. And yet saving all those dollars that go to "greedy profit seeking private companies" is one of the main justifications put forth for government healthcare. What a joke!
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"In 2011 alone, 20,000 veterans died waiting for their claims to be processed.

And there’s also concern that the VA is quickly pounding out claims decisions without adequate investigation simply to clear the backlog of unprocessed claims. In the appeals process sit 250,000 claims with an average processing time of 1,200 days."

Government run healthcare. Coming to a location near you, soon, very soon.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
And yet I have been fighting you for a modest increase in my disability rating due to actual physical issues, for over 13 years. No progress.

/long involved rant here, involving improbable sexual relations, with vegetables and Baboons...
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
a few decades ago i worked at the VA for a few months. the end of the fiscal year came with a bit of money left, so a wall was torn down and rebuilt. when i was told it would happen i didn't believe it. then the wall came down and went back up.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
use-it-or-lose-it spending sprees have got to stop.

People in government who would rather return the money do not for 2 reasons.

They feel or know that their budget might be cut if they returned money. There might be legitimate reason why they return money one year and yet the next year they need more. But under the current budget psychology if they return money one year, they will get cut when they might actually need an increase.

The second reason is they tell us that people will go to jail if they overspend or at the very least put on the slow track (as in never) for promotion. At every level people hold money in reserve in case their subordinates overspend or have an emergency. Equipment breaks or something. So instead of a level spending plant they take out a cushion 1st and slowly ramp up spending each quarter. Sometimes they spend more 1st quarter than 2nd quarter on training & necessary travel so as to not get scr/wed and get it spend before it is taken away then go on a diet during 2nd quarter. Come the end of 3rd quarter everyone start releasing their reserves kept for emergencies and overspending subordinates. At lower level furniture gets upgrade a lot at years end instead of the 1st 3 quarters. Sometimes whether it is needed or not. Much of the time in the military it is needed. You will see another surge in military training expenditures for peoples skills.

High level mangers can go to jail supposedly for overspending, but the president, cabinet secretaries and congressmen never do
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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