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Top Senate Democrat: Cost Cutting Culture Fueled VA Scandal

May 27, 2014 by  

Top Senate Democrat: Cost Cutting Culture Fueled VA Scandal, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in an interview that Washington’s cost-cutting culture helped spark the growing Veterans Administration hospital controversy by encouraging VA officials to understate their financial needs both internally and to Congress.

Murray, a top appropriator and former chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, had strong words for a department that she said not only faces chronic management issues but also consistently underestimates its funding needs and how many veterans will seek care each year. Though many Republicans have called for current VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down from his post in light of reports of secret waiting lists at VA hospitals across the county, Murray focused on cultural issues that extend deeper than one official.

“In an environment where everybody is told, ‘Keep the cost down. Don’t tell me anything costs more.’ – it creates a culture out there for people to cook the books,” Murray said in an interview with Yahoo News. Administrators learn to “hide the facts, because they don’t want to be told by their bosses, ‘Don’t tell me you need more money, because we can’t say that,'” she added.

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