Aug 6, Whistleblower Update: VA Doctor Responds to VA IG Report About Wasted TBI Research Money

Veterans for Common Sense

Dr. Robert Van Boven, hired by the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct research into traumatic brain injuries to develop treatments for veterans, filed a whistleblower complaint with VA’s Office of the Inspector General in February 2008.  Dr. Van Boven’s letter responds to the VA OIG investigation report released on July 31, 2008.  And Dr. Van Boven’s letter also responds to a newspaper article about the VA OIG report that appeared in the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman on August 3, 2008.  

Re: August 3 article “VA Investigators find some waste at UT-based project.”

Letter to the Editor of the Austin American-Statesman, by Robert W. Van Boven, MD, DDS, August 6, 2008:

Over 1.2 million dollars were spent over 18 months by the Central Texas VA (CTVHCS) without any publish-worthy results. The VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) “found no written evidence that CTVHCS leadership requested an accounting of expenditures….letter or otherwise investigated the appropriateness of [these] expenditures.”  Thus, CTVHCS did not merely “move too slowly” but did not move at all.

Regarding excessive billing and plagiarism by an outside contractor, the OIG indicates the VA failed to have a contract with a contractor so fraud could neither be substantiated nor refuted.  This contractor collected over $100,000 over 9 mos, worked on-site one day per week, and no publish-worthy work resulted.

The OIG did not address the scientific merits of highly questionable research.  Five outside experts all panned a wasteful project and other evidence also implicates cronyism behind funding of $200,000 of taxpayer dollars on work by an untrained investigator.  “Long-standing interest” and “distinguished” administrative/medical career does not confers research competence is it would not confer competence in performing surgery! 

Moreover, the TBI research program was suspended as a result of my disclosing safety and other violations.  The research efforts to generate new treatment for wounded heroes and civilians alike with TBI have been shattered. Over 4 million dollars committed to the TBI research project by signature of the Central Texas Director has been reneged upon and this is a disservice to veterans.

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