By Adam Andrzejewski for RealClearPolicy
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs wasted more than $2.3 million on unlimited data plans for phones and tablets that sat unused in storage, according to an audit by the VA Office of Inspector General.
The 10,000 iPhones and 80,930 iPads, which cost a combined $71.1 million, were intended to be sent to veterans to facilitate virtual healthcare visits with VA hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic. These devices had unlimited prepaid data plans that were activated immediately.
But the investigation found that 8,544, or about 85 percent, of the iPhones were still in storage over a year after their purchase, along with many iPads. Each of these unused devices had activated prepaid data plans, costing taxpayers $2.3 million.
The VA’s acquisition program has been flagged by the Government Accountability Office as high-risk since 2019, Citizens Against Government Waste reported, thanks to outdated acquisition policies, lack of strategy, training, and reliable data systems, limited oversight and instability in leadership.
The persistent failure of the VA to reform its acquisition practices is a disappointment to both American taxpayers and veterans. The millions that are wasted each year could be going to help care for veterans, but instead are lost because of poor management and outdated practices.
The VA had a budget of $268.5 billion in 2022, and is requesting $301.4 billion for 2023, according to Citizens Against Government Waste. Unfortunately, until the agency does the hard work of reforming its processes and policies, more money will likely lead to more waste.
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Syndicated with permission from Real Clear Wire.
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