SOURCE: THE DAILY CALLER, Patrick Howley Reporting, 1/15/2015
THE DAILY CALLER: VA Inspector General Says We Do Lots Of Reports That We Don’t Publish Or Tell Congress About
By Patrick Howley
The Daily Caller
The inspector general for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) knew that a VA medical center was giving out disconcertingly high amounts of morphine to patients, but did not disclose that information to Congress.
VA’s inspector general’s office, which is supposed to serve as an independent oversight body within the VA, admitted in a contentious conversation with The Daily Caller that its internal report on the notorious “Candy Land” facility was not published. The office also admitted that it routinely produces reports that it does not publish or send to Congress.
The inspector general’s office compiled a report in March 2014 which showed that the VA medical center in Tomah, Wisconsin, doled out high amounts of morphine to patients, causing area veterans to refer to the center as “Candy Land.” The inspector general’s report was first noted in a Jan. 8 article by the Center for Investigative Reporting.
House Committee on Veterans Affairs chairman Rep. Jeff Miller never got a copy of the internal report and did not even know that it existed until the Center for Investigative Reporting article.
“At this time, the Committee is provided electronic copies of all published reports at the time of publication,” Acting VA Inspector General Richard J. Griffin told the committee in a December 30 letter. “These reports can also be found on the Office of Inspector General [OIG] public website. If a report contains information that is protected from disclosure, we provide an unredacted copy for Committee oversight purposes upon the written request of the Chairman.”
But as a VA spokeswoman explained to The Daily Caller, there is a difference between “published reports” and un-published reports.
“We did not hide any reports from Congress,” Catherine Gromek, a congressional relations officer at the inspector general’s office, told TheDC over the phone.
“The [Office of the Inspector General] does many types of reports. Some are administrative,” while “some are published reports.”
“We had some conversations up on the Hill with congressmen about why we did what we did.”
Gromek told this reporter that “it gets under my skin” when she sees a question in her inbox asking why her office concealed a report instead of simply asking for a statement.
“It’s too long,” Gromek said, explaining that her answer to my question was complicated and that she expected TheDC was “just going to take the blurb” that “we did not hide any reports from Congress.” Gromek said she could type out a statement that would “make it seem like I went to college.”
That collegiate statement eventually came in.
“We have 10 public reports on the underlying issue of the use of opioid including a national report that the House Committee on Veterans Affairs received copies of and in some cases briefings on,” Gromek wrote to TheDC.
But Gromek did not answer our question: why did the House committee not receive a copy of the non-public March 2014 report?