VA’s ‘Homegrown’ Mailing Processes Raise Drug Diversion Concerns

By Sandra Basu

The VA’s mail order pharmacy in North Charleston, SC, one of seven in the United States.

WASHINGTON — Citing unreliable mail data and even the potential for drug diversion, lawmakers admonished VA to do a better job overseeing its mail system.

 “Veterans all over the country have pressing needs, and we simply cannot afford to operate this way anymore,” insisted Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

Bergman made his remarks at a hearing last month on VA mail management.

Lori Rectanus, director of Physical Infrastructure for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), told lawmakers that VA reports sending more than 200 million pieces of mail to veterans and their dependents, including prescription medications and benefits or disability compensation information yet does not have reliable data on mail volume and expenditures.

“This is because it does not consistently track mail volume and cost across its facilities and administrations. Instead, every facility essentially does its own thing,” said Rectanus, citing findings from a July 2017 GAO report.

That report pointed out that VA’s reported $355 million mail volume and costs in 2016 are among the highest in the federal government, although the oversight group questioned the figures since data provided by the VA to the General Services Administration (GSA) is unreliable.

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