Report: Corrupt Veterans Affairs Executive Lied Under Oath, Engaged In Fraud
A report released by the inspector general for the Veteran Affairs Department (VA) has discovered incredible levels of fraud and abuse, detailing extensive retaliation against whistleblowers, Federal News Radio reports.
Along with whistleblower harassment come findings of lying to investigators and procurement fraud, with the main culprit being Susan Taylor, the deputy chief procurement officer in the Veterans Health Administration’s Procurement and Logistics Office (VHA).
The 82-page report shows that Taylor used her office for private gain in awarding a contract to FedBid, a reverse auction service, whose executives also interfered in the process by preventing the VA from operating in an honest and impartial manner.
According to a shocking revelation from the inspector general, FedBd, in its own words, planned to “‘storm the castle,’ use a ‘heavy-handed- puncher,’ to ‘rally the troops up on the Hill,’ have ‘enough top cover to overwhelm,’ to ‘unleash the hounds,’ to ‘assassinate [Mr. Frye’s] character and discredit him,’ and to keep ‘close hold’ of nonpublic information.'”
This came after Jan Frye, VA deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Acquisition and Logistics, pushed back against the use of reverse auctions twice. A tip off from a group of vendors about the relationship between Taylor and FedBid instigated the investigation, which began around 18 months ago. The inspector general quickly found that Taylor had pressured her staff to use the services of FedBid, saying that it was ‘free,’ even though it emphatically was not.
Investigators then spent the next 18 months cataloging information about how Taylor “improperly disclosed non-public VA information to unauthorized persons, misused her position and VA resources for private gain, and engaged in a prohibited personnel practice when she recommended that a subordinate senior executive service (SES) employee be removed from SES during her probation period.”
Taylor worked closely with FedBid executives in crafting responses to assignments given to her by her supervisors at VHA. When her supervisor questioned the point of hiring FedBid in the first place, Taylor sent a frank email to FedBid executives, asking for advice on how to best respond. Taylor’s complete lack of discretion extends back to 2007, when she began work at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the report found.
Although the inspector general sent the case over to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for criminal prosecution, the DOJ instead deferred to the VA, hoping that the agency will take appropriate administrative actions. While the VA agreed with the findings, the agency says it will take 90 days to see what sort of administrative action it will take against Taylor, despite the fact that Taylor lied under oath.
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