This one, though, isn’t primarily the Veterans Affair’s doing.
Veterans at the Shreveport, LA, Veterans Administration hospital have been going without toothbrushes, toothpaste, pajamas, sheets, and blankets while department officials spend money on new Canadian-made furniture, televisions to run public service announcements and solar panels….
According to the VA, the department spent $74,412 on 24 flat screen TVs for “patient/employee information”—one 50 inches wide and the others 42 inches. The furniture cost $134,082, and the solar project was approximately $3 million.
This is shameful, but this falls on Congress. Under Federal funding rules, capital equipment—the TVs, solar, etc—fall into one funding category, and supplies—toothbrushes and paste, blankets, etc—fall into a separate category. Under those same rules, the VA (and any other agency whose funding falls into different categories) cannot take funds from, say, capital equipment, and spend it on, say, supplies. It gets even more bureaucratic than that. Agencies can’t reallocate capital expenses from one capital item to another: the VA can’t, for instance, take some of those $3 million from solar and buy more TVs with it. Only Congress can authorize such reallocations.
No, Congress must answer for this misallocation. That it’s what the VA asked for in its budget request may be true, but Congress—that collection of our directly elected representatives—isn’t supposed to be a rubber stamp for every request for money that wanders by. It’s our money Congress is allocating, not Congress’ and not the VA’s.
It’s true enough that the VA could have—should have—gone to Congress and asked for a reallocation on recognition of the supply funding shortfall. That it seems not to have is an internal VA problem that supports my argument for disbanding the VA and using the budget to fund vouchers sent directly to our veterans.
There are other problems described at the Watchdog.org link above that are entirely within the VA’s ability to correct, but this one is not.