Congressional Hearing Review
“PTSD Claims: Assessing whether VBA is Effectively Serving Veterans”
On Tuesday, July 25, 2017, the House Committee on Veteran Affairs, Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, met to discuss if the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Veteran Benefits Administration (VBA) is effectively handling PTSD claims.
Sea Power Subcommittee Hearing On the 355 Ship Navy
The new 355 ship navy will require a significant expense to become reality. It requires double the spending on ship building, 19,000 more sailors, and it will increase operating costs by 67%. The entire hearing centered around how long it o would take to reach a 355-ship navy and what is the best path to get there. A larger fleet with more ships brings added costs besides those directly associated with the ship. Approximately $15 billion will need to be spent on aircraft. This will support the larger fleet and begin to build the new air wing for the new carrier. The ships will also put a strain on the infrastructure required to build them. An estimated $4 billion will need to be spent on the infrastructure so that shipyard can accommodate the added load. It was also noted that ships such as carriers and submarines are much more complex and therefore more difficult to build. This puts an even greater demand on shipyards.
Sub Committee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Hearing Overview
The opening remarks from the committee members focused on the fact that the Coast Guard had failed to provide a long-term plan for the service. The committee had been provided an unfunded priorities list and the need for polar icebreakers. They had not received a 5 year or 20 year plan, which was requested at the last hearing. The ranking member stated that he had “lowered expectations” of the Coast Guard and that might affect their ability to push for increased funds. Other members stressed the need for the Coast Guard to provide them with accurate information on the needs of the service so that those needs can be presented to the full committee.
Incarcerated Veterans Hearing
On 27, September 2016, The House Veterans Affairs Committee met with The Honorable Michael J. Missal, Inspector General, Office of Inspector General, and Ms. Beth Murphy, Director, Compensation Service, Veterans Benefits Administration. The purpose of the hearing was to investigate the VA for overpayment of veteran benefits to incarcerated veterans.
Discussing Leasing Options For The VA
On September 28, 2016, The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure met to discuss whether the Department of Veterans Affairs is over-paying for their leased medical facilities. The committee invited three panelists to speak in front of the committee. Those panelists included Rebecca Shea, Acting Director of Physical Infrastructure for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), James M. Sullivan, Director of Asset Enterprise Management for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Chris Wisner, Assistant Commissioner for Leasing for the General Services Administration (GSA).
Department of Veterans Affairs Leases: Is the VA Over-Paying for Leased Medical Facilities?
On September 28th, 2016, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management (Transportation Committee) held a hearing to determine if Veteran’s Administration (VA) medical facilities are being delivered in a timely and cost effective manner to ensure Veterans will be able to receive the care they need. The Transportation Committee is involved due to legislation requiring their congressional authorization for all government leased facilities costing greater than $2.85 million annually.
15 Years after 9-11: The State of the Fight Against Islamic Terrorism
On September 21st, 2016, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing to examine the status of the ongoing fight against terrorism in the post September 11, 2001 world, especially in the midst of continued terror attacks on U.S. soil, including the recent bombings in New York and New Jersey.
Seapower and Projection Forces in the South China Sea
On September 21st, 2016, the House Armed Services Committee, Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, held a hearing to examine the growing reports of Chinese aggression in the South China Seas, seeing that the region has become a flashpoint, which, like the Berlin Wall during the Cold War, is a modern symbol of how developments in the region will impact global freedom of maritime navigation.
VA Procurement: Identifying Obstacles to Reform
On September 21st, 2016, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs: Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing to examine the Veterans Administration (VA) procurement practices and identify what obstacles are in the way of the reforms and changes to organization, policy, and process outlined by the Commission on Care (COC).
An Examination of VA’s Misuse of Employee Settlement Agreements
On September 14th, 2016, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs held a hearing to examine the Veterans Administration (VA) regarding their misuse of employee settlement agreements, based on the concern that the VA, due to burdensome civil service laws that make disciplining VA employees difficult, often agrees to pay employees who file a grievance, and their legal counsels, thousands of taxpayer dollars and other benefits. Since July 2014, an analysis of 208 VA settlement agreements showed that in 72% of cases reviewed, a total disbursement of over $5 million was payed directly to former employees, averaging $24,305, with the largest settlement to an individual being $225,000. Of further concern to the committee, in 96% of cases reviewed, the discipline proposed to employees was not included in their permanent employee records.