• VA Investigators Withholding Yet Another Report From Congress

    Conclusions of the latest investigation on the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs benefits office will not reach the public, Department of Veterans Affairs officials say.

    According to officials, releasing the report would violate due process rights of any troublesome employees mentioned in connection with bad behavior, Philly.com reports.

    But some members of Congress protested the decision, saying they wanted to receive the report when it was finally finished last Tuesday. In particular, GOP Rep. Ryan Costello stated that he was frustrated over the office’s refusal to pass the report along to elected representatives.

    “I’m trying to hold fire here, because if they are undertaking a process that is thorough, that is comprehensive, and that is going to lead to accountability of individuals who are culpable … I understand that they have to go through that process,” Costello stated.

    The Philadelphia office serves 825,000 veterans spread across three states. Owing to recent revelations of improper management and manipulated claims, the office is currently vying with the Phoenix VA for the most troubled facility in the entire system.

    James Hutton, VA spokesman, said that Congress will receive the report once the assessment period for disciplinary actions is over. It’s not clear whether the VA will release the report publicly.

    “I just think they’re stalling and trying to buy time for these people,” whistleblower Kristen Ruell said. “But why would you want to? Why wouldn’t you want to address it?”

    The Philadelphia office has previously faced heat following an inspector general report in April which revealed abysmal working conditions. In one case, employees had to work in a leaky facility plagued with a rodents. The warehouse didn’t even have bathrooms. Another example of a dysfunctional environment included countless thousands of inquiries outright ignored by employees. Average inquiry response time was pegged at 312 days. The mandated response time is 5 days. The report also noted an awful relationship between employees and management.

    After a recent visit by members of Congress, Kristen Ruell stated that the culture of improper behavior hadn’t changed.

    “I’m wondering what problems have been fixed,” Ruell said, according to Military.com. “I’m seeing the same things, and it’s worse than ever. Employee morale is at an all-time low.”

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter


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