VA Secretary

VA Secretary McDonald

If you search “VA Secretary” in Google News this morning, your entire screen will be filled with stories about the shameful comments that VA Secretary Robert McDonald directed at Congressman Mike Coffman in a Capitol Hill hearing room yesterday.

Interrupting Coffman multiple times during a four-minute exchange, McDonald finished out the conversation with the unfortunate line: “I’ve run a large company, sir.  What have you done?”

For someone who has run a large company, one would think that he would have the common sense to do some homework on people that he would be meeting with in a televised hearing, and not make such a foolish remark to the only member of Congress who served in both Iraq wars.

This short exchange demonstrated that McDonald is not interested in changing the culture that has rotted the VA for several years, as has been recently exposed by heroes such as Mike Coffman and numerous veteran service organizations.  Below is just a quick rundown of the issues that Coffman brought up, issues that the arrogant VA Secretary replied with a smug “What have you done?”

  • Every major VA construction project is hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.
  • The VA construction management group overseeing the new hospital in Aurora was so incompetent that the general contractor refused to continue work until they were kicked off the job site and replaced with U.S. Army Corps of Engineer construction managers.
  • The VA is “mired in bureaucratic incompetence and corruption.”
  • The Secretary’s budget submission claimed a major accomplishment as “defended against complex litigation such as with the construction projects in Orlando and Denver.”
  • Recommendation that VA focus on delivering services to veterans, and get that right before trying to handle construction management.

The above list is not all of what Coffman had to say, and Coffman certainly did not even scratch the surface of VA’s myriad bureaucrat mismanagement.  But this short exchange should serve as a warning that Obama’s new man at VA may be in over his head, and that we are looking at the possibility of essentially no meaningful change at the VA during the last two years of Obama’s administration.