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Veterans' Affairs Committee Leaders Call for GAO Oversight of Medical Supply Chain and VA COVID-19 Relief Funds

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Washington, May 14, 2020 | Samantha Gonzalez (2022253527) | comments
Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) sent a joint letter with Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-Mont.) requesting a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the use and management of the emergency relief funds that were appropriated to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) following passage of the CARES Act.

In their letter, the Members wrote, “We request that GAO gather information on the effectiveness of VA’s management and expenditure of these funds for procuring necessary, time critical medical supplies, the department’s implementation of the financial controls outlined in its COVID-19 response plan, the ability of the VA procurement enterprise to obtain clinically necessary items and by what means, the ability of VA’s medical supply chain to meet its COVID-19 response needs and any obstacles that may have prevented VA from relying on its usual partners, the organizational relationship between VA and other agencies to include the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security with respect to procurement and logistics, the effectiveness of procedural or policy modifications for obtaining necessary medical supplies made during the pandemic response, and any related VA medical supply chain or contracting issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic response that GAO determines to be important.”

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

The Honorable Gene L. Dodaro
Comptroller General
U. S. Government Accountability Office
441G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20548

Dear Mr. Dodaro:

The COVID-19 pandemic has strained the U.S. health care system in unprecedented ways and significantly impacted the Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest integrated health system in the nation. A severe disruption to global medical supply chains coupled with historic demand spikes has wreaked havoc on VA’s already strained procurement and logistics operations. We have prioritized reform of such administrative processes because of their direct, measurable impact on the quality of care provided to veterans, and we commend GAO on its prior work on these issues. However, the unique and immediate challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic warrant extraordinary focus by GAO.

In accordance with Congress’ direction to the Comptroller General in section 19010 of the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136) to monitor the exercise of authorities and use of funds provided to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the pandemic, we request a sustained focus on VA. We request that GAO gather information on the effectiveness of VA’s management and expenditure of these funds for procuring necessary, time critical medical supplies, the department’s implementation of the financial controls outlined in its COVID-19 response plan, the ability of the VA procurement enterprise to obtain clinically necessary items and by what means, the ability of VA’s medical supply chain to meet its COVID-19 response needs and any obstacles that may have prevented VA from relying on its usual partners, the organizational relationship between VA and other agencies to include the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security with respect to procurement and logistics, the effectiveness of procedural or policy modifications for obtaining necessary medical supplies made during the pandemic response, and any related VA medical supply chain or contracting issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic response that GAO determines to be important. We also ask that GAO provide recommendations on how VA can improve any of the aforementioned processes, relationships or responses moving forward.

We will coordinate with GAO on the priority, timing, reporting format, and specific nature of work conducted under this request.

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