VA Health Program Purchased MRI Scanner for No Reason
The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently completed an audit of the Center of Excellence (COE) for Research on Returning War Veterans based in Waco, Texas prompted by an anonymous caller to a VA hotline. The caller claims that a mobile Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner purchased by the COE has not been used since it was acquired in July 2008; the OIG’s audit substantiates the caller’s claim.
The VA program spent $2.9 million for the scanner and committed to the ongoing maintenance cost of $200,000 annually. The OIG makes it very clear in its report of its findings that the COE program spent $2.9 million of taxpayer money for no reason.
Why did the COE purchase a mobile MRI scanner? The use of a mobile MRI scanner must provide tangible benefits for veterans? According to the OIG’s report, the bureaucrats who requested a mobile MRI scanner “did not have staff qualified to operate the scanner or approved research projects.” The VA bureaucrats in Waco decided the COE program needed a mobile MRI scanner, so they used taxpayer money to purchase a scanner with no forethought on why or how to use it, this is typical behavior from feckless bureaucrats who don’t mind wasting money because it’s not their money.
A glaring difference between the public sector and private sector is the decision-making process for expenditures. In the public sector, there is no decision-making process. In the private sector, every purchase has to be justified in painstaking detail; all proposed capital expenditures must be accompanied by a plan that outlines the reasons for the outlay. The OIG’s report makes it clear that there was no reason for the COE to purchase an MRI scanner.
The following is from the OIG’s report:
- COE leadership did not anticipate the extent to which environmental conditions affect MRI scanner images.
- The scanner required evaluation, software upgrades, and repairs on an ongoing basis.
- COE did not have staff qualified to operate the scanner or approved research projects.
It is undeniable that the COE did not devise a plan for using the mobile MRI scanner before purchasing it. The COE claims it purchased the scanner to conduct research, but plans for research projects were unavailable when the program was audited.
Let us pretend that there was a plan in place for using an MRI scanner as part of research projects capable of improving the lives of millions of veterans. If the VA bureaucrats were good stewards of your tax dollars they would have thoroughly evaluated the pros and cons of purchasing a mobile MRI scanner, but they thought it would be neat to have a mobile MRI scanner; hey, it’s not their money. The bureaucrats could have easily discovered through a serious investigation into the positives and negatives of using a mobile MRI scanner that the negatives are numerous and far outweigh the negligible positives.
The OIG determined the scanner was not used for 64 months. The COE spent $2.9 million of your tax dollars plus an additional $1.1 million in maintenance costs during the 64 months the scanner was not used. What were the consequences for wasting your tax dollars? The OIG did not make any recommendations because it claims “the issues that delayed use of the MRI scanner in the past were resolved.” It is not surprising that the OIG did not recommend the termination of the bureaucrats responsible for wasting your tax dollars because it never recommends terminating bureaucrats; bureaucrats always protect their fellow bureaucrats. Bureaucrats operate free from accountability for their malfeasance.
A VA health program purchased a mobile MRI scanner for no reason, and not a single bureaucrat is held accountable for wasting millions of tax dollars; this is the modus operandi of the federal government. The fed gov bureaucracy is a beast that continues to devour billions of hard-working Americans’ tax dollars unrestrained. The VA is the primary example of a fed gov department operating in a haphazard, destructive manner. The VA is failing America’s veterans and American taxpayers.