On Thursday, a congressional hearing was held to investigate whether or not federal charge cards were improperly used at the Department of Veterans Affairs. KUSA reports that the hearing stems from a whistleblower’s letter stating that purchase cards were used without proper contracts, alleging that the VA illegally spent as much as $6 billion a year. The practice of using the purchase cards without contracts had been ongoing for years, the whistleblower said.
“By using the card, the purchasers simply ignore that process they are able to liquidate the unauthorized commitment,” the whistleblower said, according to KUSA. “No pain, no stain. Nobody ever knows.” She alleges that no written contracts were in place when employees used the charge cards to purchase pharmaceutical and medical devices such as prosthetics. According to the whistleblower, this type of practice paves the way for fraud, waste and abuse.
According to KUSA, the allegations include exceeding authorized purchase limits, inadequate financial controls prohibiting duplicative or split payments, and inadequate recording or reporting of financial information.
“A lot of different parts of the organization have looked at this issue, and there are different views on this issue.” said VA’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Management Edward Murray. He says he found out about the allegations at the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation hours before the hearing.
Subcommittee chairman Mike Coffman, R-CO said “You are doing absolutely nothing to make a difference on this issue, and I am very disappointed in your testimony today,”