Bipartisan Senate Package Includes Sen. Warner's Proposal to Allow Private Sector to Assist V-A at No Cost to Taxpayers
~ Measure passes as part of bipartisan Senate legislation to fix V-A ~ ~ Warner proposal modeled on successful work to fix back office mess at Arlington National Cemetery ~
Jun 11 2014
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate today passed Sen. Mark R. Warner’s (D-VA) bipartisan proposal to enlist private sector technology companies to assist the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (V-A) assess and fix problems with the V-A scheduling system. Sen. Warner’s proposal was included as part of bipartisan V-A reform legislation that passed the Senate today on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. A recent audit of the V-A revealed more than 57,000 veterans have waited at least three months for initial appointments, and an additional 64,000 veterans who requested appointments never received them. In addition, the V-A inspector general has confirmed that some employees routinely violated V-A accountability standards to make it appear that V-A medical facilities were performing better than they actually were.
“I’m pleased that our bipartisan proposal was included as part of this compromise legislation to reform the V-A,” Sen. Warner said. “One of the things we can do immediately is to evaluate and recommend improvements to the V-A’s I-T systems to make sure that every veteran who contacts the V-A is able to schedule an appointment in an efficient and timely way. This pro bono private sector help is something that can be completed quickly as we continue to push forward to fix broader, longer range challenges at the V-A.”
Sen. Warner’s proposal to engage with the private sector in designing a quick I-T fix for the V-A’s scheduling backlog was first proposed in a letter to President Obama. Since then, the proposal has generated bipartisan support from Sens. Mike Johanns (R-NE), Patty Murray (D-WA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Al Franken (D-MN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Michael Bennet (D-CO). Today’s legislative progress occurred at the same time Sen. Warner continues to have conversations about this proposal with top White House officials.
In 2010, Sen. Warner successfully pushed the U.S. Army to accept a similar pro bono I-T assessment and correction plan from companies belonging to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Northern Virginia Technology Council to help fix widespread mismanagement and technology challenges in operations at Arlington National Cemetery.