VA Makes Little Progress in a Year; Congress Schedules Prime-Time Hearing

The troubled VA is still struggling to find its footing and even get a grip on the problems, a congressional committee will hear Monday in a prime-time hearing as lawmakers take stock of the department nearly a year after whistleblowers exposed bureaucratic bungling and veterans dying while waiting for care.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee will look at improving transparency at the Veterans Affairs Department and the department’s inspector general’s office, which prepared reports on troubled facilities such as Phoenix or Tomah, Wisconsin, but never released them, essentially keeping problems hidden, the committee says.

President Obama also is grappling with the issue. He made a visit Friday to the VA facility in Phoenix, where whistleblowers said dozens of veterans were denied the care they needed and died while stuck on secret waiting lists.

The inspector general later concluded that care in Phoenix and in clinics across the country often took a back seat to the VA bureaucracy and to senior executives’ desire for performance bonuses — though investigators said they couldn’t firmly link any deaths to the botched care.