WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman French Hill (AR-02) wrote a letter to Under Secretary for Health at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and current VA Secretary Nominee David Shulkin informing him that his department would be receiving the Golden Fleece Award for February.
According to a recent audit from the VA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) that reviewed the VA’s use of recruiting, relocation, and retention compensation, the VA failed to enforce the repayments cost for employee failure to reach their goals, costing hardworking taxpayers about $784,000 in fiscal year 2014. Further, the report estimates that this lack of action could cost $3.9 million through 2019 if not effectively addressed.
In the letter to Under Secretary Shulkin, Congressman Hill wrote:
“The OIG includes critical recommendations to reassess the capabilities of the VA’s human resources Smart system, to ‘review and update procedures,’ and to ‘develop internal controls…to monitor compliance with developing succession plans to reduce VA’s reliance on retention incentives.’” I urge you, especially in your likely new role as VA Secretary, to review this audit and work to adhere to the VAOIG’s recommendations to ensure that critical funds for our Nation’s veterans are not wasted on these payment programs.
“Our federal agencies must be good stewards of our federal tax dollars, and I am committed to ensuring effective practices at our Nation’s federal agencies. Should you require any additional authority from Congress to address these concerns, I urge you to notify us as soon as possible. I thank you for your consideration and look forward to working with you to address this important issue.”
About the Golden Fleece Award
Every year, Congress appropriates trillions of dollars to fund the federal government, and every year the federal government wastes portions of these funds in unconscionable ways. As a Member of Congress, and as a taxpayer, this frustrates me to no end. In an attempt to increase accountability for every single government program, Congressman Hill decided to bring back the Golden Fleece Award.
Originally introduced by Democratic U.S. Senator from Wisconsin William Proxmire in March 1975, the Golden Fleece Award was a monthly bulletin on the most frivolous and wasteful uses of hardworking taxpayers’ dollars. The Golden Fleece Award became a staple in the U.S. Senate during this time, and Senator Robert Byrd once stated that the awards were “as much a part of the Senate as quorum calls and filibusters.”
In reviving this idea, the Golden Fleece Award will again have the opportunity to serve as an important reminder to taxpayers about the need for necessary, commonsense reforms to our federal spending.