The Office of Inspector General at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has dropped its demand for the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) to turn over records related to the more than 800 whistleblowers who contacted POGO last year about problems in the VA healthcare system.
In a letter faxed to POGO offices late Tuesday afternoon, VA Deputy Inspector General Linda Halliday wrote she has decided not to enforce the subpoena that the VA IG issued to POGO on May 30, 2014.
Halliday’s decision comes less than two weeks after Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) grilled Halliday about the appropriateness of the subpoena during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies.
After reports of fraud and mismanagement within the VA surfaced last year, POGO and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) launched a secure website in May 2014 that allowed more than 800 whistleblowers and veterans to come forward without having to go through the VA, which faced accusations that it had retaliated against whistleblowers.
While POGO has refused to release any information that would compromise the identity of VA whistleblowers, it has a long-standing offer to provide the VA IG with general information about the complaints it has received in order to help the IG identify problems.
POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said POGO is assessing the information it has received from VA whistleblowers to determine what information can be shared with the VA IG.
“We’re encouraged that the Office of Inspector General seems to have shifted its priorities from identifying whistleblowers to focusing on the serious problems that have plagued the VA healthcare system,” Brian said.
Follow the link to read the VA Inspector General’s latest letter to POGO.
Follow the link to see the exchange between Sen. Kirk and Halliday.