VA may have wasted $762,000 on Orlando conferences; 11 employees got gifts from contractors, IG says

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Watchdog,Jennifer Peebles,Veterans Affairs

Federal Veterans Affairs administrators may have blown three-quarters of a million dollars on conferences in Orlando, Fla., last year, and nearly a dozen VA employees improperly accepted gifts from contractors, the agency's Inspector General said this afternoon.

The inspector general's office said it estimated the total costs of the conferences to be around $6.1 million, but "could not gain reasonable assurance" that the figure covered the entire cost, according to a summary of the report. "In our opinion, VA held these conferences to fulfill valid training needs," the report said.

"However, VA’s processes and the oversight were too weak, ineffective, and in some instances, nonexistent. Thus, many conference costs were not sufficiently documented, which made them difficult to clearly justify, or identify whether they were accurate, appropriate, necessary, or even reasonably priced.

"In fact, we questioned about $762,000 as unauthorized, unnecessary, and/or wasteful expenses.

"Further, we found that eleven VA employees, tasked with conference management responsibilities, improperly accepted gifts from contractors seeking to do business or already doing business with VA. The VA Secretary agreed to take action on our findings and OIG will monitor the Department’s progress on implementing all proposed corrective actions."

Check WashingtonExaminer.com later this afternoon for additional details from the complete report.

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