Duplicate Payments to Veterans Distress Office Workers a Lot, Supervisors Not So Much
Check out this troubling New York Times story headlined "Double Payments Bedevil Veterans' Pension System."
What's particularly troubling isn't simply that some problems have crept into a system that pays out $4 billion a year but that supervisors apparently don't care about the misdirected payments. Consider the case of Kristen Ruell, who works for the Veterans Administration in Philadelphia. She saw an extra payment cross her screen for $21,000 in duplicate back pay and reported it to her higher-ups, who shrugged it off.
After seeing the same problem in other claims, Ms. Ruell, who works on a quality review team at a veterans pension management center in Philadelphia, says she raised red flags with her bosses. If she, one of scores of payment authorizers nationwide, was just noticing the duplicate payments, was it not likely that the department had inadvertently overpaid many other people for years?
Two years later, that concern has not been resolved, Ms. Ruell and several other pension management workers say.
The department says duplicate payments are rare — perhaps fewer than 100 a year. A robust system of checks and balances, human and digital, routinely prevents a vast majority of such payments, said David R. McLenachen, the director of the department's pensions and fiduciary service.
One man's "robust system" is another man's game of kick the can:
One Philadelphia employee, Ryan Cease, whose job for a time included correcting duplicate records, said it could take hours to fix one. Mr. Cease, who says he has found evidence of more than 1,200 duplicate pension records, proposed creating a team to tackle the problem. But supervisors have not responded, he said.
No one wants to stiff veterans of their hard-earned benefits, but the cavalier attitude toward oversight in the story is disturbing to say the least. Especially when you multiply that potential for misdirected payments by all the agencies in the federal government that are cutting checks.
Another recent sad sack VA scandal: Paying beaucoup bucks for a crappy Patton parody video.
Take a look at what $52,000 will get you as a government contractor. And then pray that our enemies are weak as tea.