Spanberger Demands Answers, Accountability from VA Over Nearly $11 Million Misspent on Executive Bonuses

The Congresswoman and a Bipartisan Group of Her Colleagues Asked the VA Secretary to Prioritize Veterans’ Health, Not Senior Executives’ Bottom Lines

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger is looking for answers from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Dennis McDonough following a recent VA Inspector General report that showed the Department improperly awarded nearly $11 million in bonuses to senior officials at its central office.

In September 2023, the VA Inspector General found that the VA had used $10.8 million in critical skill incentive (CSI) payments — funds appropriated by Congress to help recruit and retain employees with in-demand skills that are in short supply — to fund bonuses ranging from $39,000 to more than $100,000 to 182 senior executives in the central office.

In a letter sent to Secretary McDonough, Spanberger and a bipartisan group of her colleagues asked for accountability and action following this alarming report. The members asked the Secretary whether the VA is working with the Office of the Inspector General to follow its recommendations, what steps the agency is taking to recoup the bonuses, how it will hold senior officials who approved the bonuses accountable, and how it will protect funds from being misused in the future.

“While we appreciate that upon learning of these payments in September you demanded the executives reimburse the VA, eight months have passed, and the money is still being recouped,” said Spanberger and her colleagues. “The VA has an obligation to the veterans and families they serve to claw back the millions of dollars that were improperly distributed, reallocate the funds to their original purpose, and discipline the senior executives who do not comply.”

The letter was also signed by U.S. Representatives Jared Golden (D-ME-02), Don Bacon (R-NE-02), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA-03), Mary Peltola (D-AK-AL), and Mike Thompson (D-CA-04).

Click here to read the letter, and the full letter text is below.

Dear Mr. Secretary,

We write with the utmost concern following the recent report from Veterans Affairs (VA) Inspector General (IG) Michael Missal regarding your agency improperly awarding more than $10 million in bonuses to senior executives at the central office.

The VA provides critical services such as monetary assistance and healthcare for those who served our country and their families. Employees at the VA, many of whom are veterans themselves, understand the importance of providing timely, quality care at their facilities. The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 expanded upon this commitment to our nation’s veterans by providing health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances.

In September 2023, the VA announced that the agency had erroneously awarded $10.8 million in critical skill incentive (CSI) payments – funds that Congress authorized in the PACT Act for employees who “possesses a high-demand skill or skill that is at a shortage” to help VA recruit and retain employees – to 182 senior executives at its central office. According to the IG report, bonuses ranged from nearly $39,000 to over

$100,000 each in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).

While we appreciate that upon learning of these payments in September you demanded the executives reimburse the VA, eight months have passed, and the money is still being recouped. This not only damages the trust placed in the VA by veterans, employees, and Congress, but raises serious questions about your agency’s oversight of taxpayer dollars, transparency, and commitment to adhering to congressional intent.

The VA has an obligation to the veterans and families they serve to claw back the millions of dollars that were improperly distributed, reallocate the funds to their original purpose, and discipline the senior executives who do not comply. We will ensure these egregious missteps cannot happen again, and the VA continues to provide veterans and their families with the highest level of quality and access to care.

With regard to those concerns, we ask you to provide us with answers to the following questions:

  1. Is the VA working with the OIG? If so, what plans do you have to implement their recommendations following their report? If not, is it your intent to do so?
  2. What steps is the VA taking or planning to take to ensure these funds are recouped? How long is this anticipated to take?
  3. What actions are being taken to hold these senior executives who authorized the improper bonuses accountable?
  4. What steps are being taken by the VA to ensure funds authorized by Congress are not mishandled in this way in the future?

The VA should always prioritize the health and wellbeing of our veterans and their families, not padding its employees’ own pockets.

We appreciate your immediate attention to this important matter.

###

Recent Posts


May 24, 2024
Veterans' Issues

Spanberger Statement Ahead of Memorial Day 2024

Congresswoman: “We Remember the Americans Who Set Forth in Service, Those Who Felt a Calling to Defend Our Core American Values, and Those Who Laid Down Their Lives to Protect Our Freedoms” WOODBRIDGE, Va. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today released the following statement ahead of Memorial Day 2024. “Memorial Day reminds us of the often-steep […]



May 23, 2024
Agriculture

Spanberger Statement on Status of Farm Bill Negotiations

The Congresswoman is the Only Virginian on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today released the following statement on the status of Farm Bill negotiations ahead of a U.S. House Agriculture Committee markup on the House GOP’s initial Farm Bill. “As the only Virginian on the House Agriculture Committee, I […]



May 22, 2024
Local Issues

On Floor of U.S. House, Spanberger Shares “Stories of Service” from Virginians, Honors Servicemembers, Veterans, & Military Families During Military Appreciation Month

For the Second Year in a Row, the Congresswoman Shared “Stories of Service” She Received from Virginians to Honor the Personal Sacrifices of Those Who Put on the Uniform WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today honored Veterans, servicemembers, and Virginia military families. To recognize […]