I'm going to pull something from the snapshot:
George Szwarcman: . . . [Microphone not on] Oh, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Robert Neary: Okay, it's on.
George Szwarcman: Okay. Uhm . . . [Clears throat] VA -- According to a decision, or an opinion by the Office of General Counsel, VA does, uh, have authority to purchase options to purchase real property. Uh, the only distinction I would make in this case is that VA is purchasing an option for -- an assignable option -- or I should say -- yeah -- purchases an option to buy that property which will be assigned to the eventual developer. So it is never really the intent of VA to acquire a piece of property such as in Savannah for VA to own.
Robert Neary: Uh, no, sir, we've not.
Chair Bill Johnson: And if the land is not purchased, will VA get any of that money back?
Robert Neary: No, sir.
Chair Bill Johnson: So that's taxpayer dollars down the drain.
I included that for a reason.
I said I'd grab the lease issue.
The VA, according to Neary, is using five or six brokerage firms to handle leases. Do they get payment?
You would not believe the amount of questions Bill Johnson had to ask to get an answer to that basic question. And then only after he'd been lied to by George Szwarcman. Yes, they are paid.
Guess what else Chair Johnson established?
That these brokerage firms that are being paid? They're doing the work the VA's paid to do. Why isn't the VA doing it? Robert Neary pleaded that there were not enough employees. The VA is paid to do this work, they need to be doing it.
Currently, there's a lot that the VA should be doing that they're not doing.
Sunday, Dona moderated a discussion at Third entitled "Congress and Veterans Issues" with C.I., Ava, Kat and myself offering our thoughts on February hearings we'd attended. I shared this:
Wally: At a hearing the day before that, US House Rep. Michael Michaud declared, "VA comes up here and testifies that it has wonderful policies in place. Unfortunately no one ever seems to follow these policies and procedures and they seem to be no consequences for the failure to follow these procedures." That hearing was on the VA's Pharmaceutical Prime Vendor Contract but it really applies to everything.
Dona: Time and again, you four get back on Saturday and I hear about how nothing's happened, how it was going through the motions yet again. How frustrating is that?
Wally: I'm being pointed at so I'll speak. I started attending these hearings several years ago, Bush was occupying the White House then, and I thought, "Great, they've explored the problem, they've outlined it, now they're going to solve it." Yet what I tend to hear in the hearings is issues that I would have thought would be solved a long time ago. I don't know why veterans groups don't spend more time calling out the Congress, to be honest.
And I was really feeling that today. The VA got caught lying. They got caught lying and won't admit it. They got caught lying. They asked Congress for X number of dollars for Fiscal Year 2009 to expand the Savannah medical center. Congress agreed to X with the understanding that it would be done by June 2011. All this time later, it's not done. In addition, the expansion will be over 42% more than what Congress agreed to. And, in addition to that, the Chair's got a document from June 2009 proving they knew they were going to spend so much more than what was asked for an authorized.
This is disgusting and it's why people get angry about paying taxes.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
This afternoon the US House Veterans Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing. Bill Johnson is the Subcommittee Chair, Joe Donnelly is the Ranking Member. Robert Neary is the Acting Executive Director of the Office of Constructin & Facilities Management at the Department of Veterans Affairs and he was joined by the Dept's George Szwarcman (Director of Real Property Services) and Brandi Fate (Director of Capital Asset Management and Support). Robert Neary began his opening r