A complaint to the Veterans Administration hotline led to an investigation that found its medical center in New Orleans purchased $1.85 million in excess surgical supplies.
The VA Office of Inspector General received the complaint in August 2019 that alleged mismanagement of supplies, equipment and operating rooms while activating the New Orleans VA Medical Center in Louisiana.
The OIG found employees violated VA supply chain management policies by not properly accounting for the excess supplies or letting its other facilities know they were available. Employees also violated federal regulations and VA policy when they used to purchase cards instead of contracts to obtain supplies.
The OIG did not substantiate that the facility purchased unnecessary equipment, nor that funds were wasted on surgical equipment and related service contracts. The OIG was unable to determine if operating rooms were underused because sufficient data on the percentage of surgeries being outsourced were not available.
However, the OIG substantiated that two operating rooms were not being used two years after the surgical department opened and the department’s activation was delayed.
Employees provided evidence supporting the decision to not yet open all the operating rooms. COVID-19 also affected delays in the surgical department.
The OIG recommended the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System director account for undocumented excess supplies and determine if any administrative action should be taken on some $675,000 in missing supplies listed in a survey report.