House panel tries shame strategy on VA


The House Veterans Affairs Committee is leaning on the agency it oversees to comply with overdue information requests, using a webpage that charts the VA's tardiness.

The Trials in Transparency Page is a bipartisan effort that tracks information requests made by Republican and Democratic members alike. According to the page, there are 95 outstanding information requests dating back more than a year.

The committee has yet to get answers about a series of data breaches, reportedly by foreign actors, into VA systems that may have compromised the personally identifiable information of veterans, which was left unencrypted.

Rep. Jeff Miller, (R-Fla.), chairman of the committee said, "When the department drags its feet in providing information requested by Congress, it inhibits our ability to ensure America's veterans are receiving the care and benefits they have earned."

"VA is committed to appropriate oversight of its activities and the wise use of taxpayer dollars while we continue our work together serving veterans and their families," agency spokesperson Victoria Dillon told the Associated Press.

Separately, Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-Calif.), announced July 9 that he had issued a subpoena to require VA secretary Eric Shinseki to submit documents related to a series of conferences that reportedly included lavish receptions and expensively produced parody videos.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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Reader comments

Tue, Aug 20, 2013

Am I the only one who sees the irony of congress trying to shame anybody? It’s simply funny on so many levels. I’m sure Congressman Miller means well, but he needs to understand that he’s a congressman and because of that he brings no ammunition to an battle where credibility matters. So he’s clearly on target when it comes to being critical of VA’s Senior Executive leadership, but he’s going to have an uphill battle because he comes from a body that’s even less effective than VA’s leadership. Hard to fathom, but it’s the truth!

Tue, Aug 20, 2013

LOL, congress is getting a taste of their own medicine. One thing is for sure, if any other part of the government is only as effective as they prove themselves to be each day, they're offended and want heads to roll. So I laugh at them because they deserve this. Try helping agencies accomplish their mission instead of bashing the under-funded and under-staffed and you might get results. Congress is a bad circus with rusty rides, so I think we're in for more years of this. Hang in ther VA, you have a great mission, and don't let congress bother you while you accomplish it.

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 Washington, DC

Old saying: When you're point your finger at someone else, there are three pointing back at you. This is theater, not governing. Congress hasn't been effective in governing for years (like passing a budget...their single biggest responsibility). They distract from their failings by staging theatrical hearings. Honestly, it appears to be working - at least for the public. All except for the part we're in an free fall checked only by gridlock. Incredibly demoralizing for the entire country.

Thu, Jul 11, 2013

Oversight *is* what they are supposed to be doing.

Thu, Jul 11, 2013

It appears Congress spends too much time pointing fingers than REALLY Doning what it is they are supposed to do!

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