Inspector general report faults Los Angeles office
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today sent a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald expressing concern over the recent Office of Inspector General report that found inappropriate management of veterans’ paper records.
The August 17 report disclosed that the Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Regional Benefits Office was not following proper protocol and was shredding documents that had the potential to affect veterans’ benefits.
“I am deeply concerned [about the OIG’s findings] and would like to know what steps this office is taking to correct mismanagement, prevent its recurrence and ensure prompt and accurate action on any benefit applications improperly shredded in the past,” Feinstein wrote.
Feinstein requested that the Department of Veterans Affairs detail the corrective actions they are taking within 30 days.
The full text of the letter follows:
August 20, 2015
The Honorable Robert A. McDonald
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20420
Dear Secretary McDonald:
I write in response to a Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG) report that identified improper shredding practices at the Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Regional Office (VARO). I am deeply concerned and would like to know what steps this office is taking to correct mismanagement, prevent its recurrence, and ensure prompt and accurate action on any benefit applications improperly shredded in the past.
The OIG report, released on August 17, 2015, disclosed findings after an unannounced inspection revealed that the Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Regional Office was not following the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) January 2011 policy on management of veterans’ and other governmental paper records. It found serious issues with the shredding practices, including that:
There was no Records Management Officer (RMO) in place to ensure the appropriate management and safeguarding of veterans’ records, to include providing oversight of the shredding documents;
Officials who took over the role were not appropriately trained; and
The Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Regional Office failed to provide any documentation of shredding logs for the past two years, as required by policy, which made it unable for OIG to determine to what extent other documents were shredded that may have delayed veterans’ claims.
I am deeply troubled by the OIG’s findings given that the OIG has identified inappropriate shredding of veterans’ claims in the past. It is also concerning that the report indicates a problem not only with frontline staff but also with management controls. I therefore request that you detail, within 30 days, the corrective actions you will take regarding the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Regional Office mismanagement of paper records.
Thank you for your attention to my request.