In late May 2014, OIG began receiving a number of allegations through the VA OIG Hotline of mismanagement at the Philadelphia, PA, VARO. Many of these allegations included indicators that staff had a serious mistrust of VARO management.
On June 19, 2014, OIG benefits inspectors, auditors, and criminal and administrative investigators began a comprehensive review of conditions at the Philadelphia VARO. Overall, OIG staff conducted over 100 interviews with VARO management and staff to assess the merits of multiple allegations of wrongdoing. OIG substantiated serious issues involving mismanagement and distrust of VARO management impeding the effectiveness of its operations and services to veterans.
Overall, OIG made 35 recommendations for improvement at the Philadelphia VARO, encompassing mismanagement of VA resources resulting in compromised data integrity, lack of financial stewardship, and lack of confidence in management’s ability to effectively manage workload, to include mail management and in protecting documents containing personally identifiable information. There is an immediate need to improve the operation and management of this VARO and take actions to ensure a more effective work environment. Further, the extent to which management oversight has been determined to be ineffective and/or lacking requires Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) oversight and action. It is imperative to ensure VBA leadership and the VARO Director implement plans to ensure the unprocessed workload OIG identified is processed and to provide appropriate oversight that is critical to minimizing the potential future financial risk of making inaccurate benefit payments. This includes maintaining oversight needed to ensure all future workload is processed timely and in ensuring the accurate and timely delivery of benefits and services.