This time with the VA’s IG participating. It’s an unfortunate side effect of having an organization’s inspection/watchdog function be an internal one, even if it works for the organization’s boss and not for anyone further down the totem pole.
Crucial language that the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General could not “conclusively” prove that delays in care caused patient deaths at a Phoenix hospital was added to its final report after a draft version was sent to agency administrators for comment….
The single most compelling sentence in the inspector general’s 143-page final report on fraudulent scheduling practices at the Phoenix veterans’ hospital did not appear in the draft version, according to a staff analysis by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
It was inserted into the final version, the only one that was released to the public, after agency officials had a chance to comment and recommend revisions.
It’s certainly legitimate for IG draft reports to be run by the group just inspected and about whom the report is being written, but that’s to give the inspectees an opportunity to check facts and to suggest corrections to factual errors. Giving the inspectees the ability to “correct” the conclusions themselves is entirely illegitimate.
A separate report, written by the inspectee, is a normal part of the proceeding. Here, the inspectee indicates its concurrence with IG conclusions and its plan of corrective action regarding those conclusions. It’s also in this separate inspectee response report that the inspectee indicates its disagreement with a conclusion and the reasons for that disagreement.
Then the IG responds, again in a separate report, indicating its acceptance of the inspectee’s disagreement or the IG’s overruling of the inspectee, with the original conclusion standing and the inspectee required to take corrective action. All three of these reports are part of the official record.
Notice that: the legitimate course is to disagree with an IG conclusion, in writing, in a separate report, not to rewrite the IG conclusion itself.
And the cover-up of the cover-up:
The House committee obtained the draft version of the report late Thursday, after the [Washington] Examiner published a story that IG had been refusing its release.
Again, I say, it’s time to disband the VA altogether and send the VA’s existing budget and what would have been its future budgets directly to our veterans as voucher checks with which they can be free to seek out their own doctors and their own medical facilities.