According to an audit by the VA Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs wasted more than $2.3 million on unlimited data plans for smartphones and tablets that remained unused in storage.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, veterans were supposed to receive the 10,000 iPhones and 80,930 iPads, which cost a total of $71.1 million, in order to facilitate virtual healthcare visits with VA hospitals. These devices came with instantly activated, unlimited prepaid data plans.
However, the investigation discovered that 8,544, or about 85%, of the iPhones and many iPads were still in storage more than a year after their purchase. Each of these inactive devices had prepaid data plans activated, which cost the tax payers $2.3 million.
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According to Citizens Against Government Waste, the GAO has identified the VA’s acquisition program as high-risk since 2019, due to dated acquisition policies, a lack of strategy, training, and trustworthy data systems, as well as a lack of oversight and leadership instability.
Both American taxpayers and veterans are disappointed by the VA’s continued inability to change its acquisition procedures. Due to poor management and antiquated procedures, millions of dollars are lost every year that could be used to support the care of veterans.
According to Citizens Against Government Waste, the VA requested $301.4 billion for 2023 despite having a $268.5 billion budget in 2022. Unfortunately, more funding will probably result in more waste until the organization puts in the effort to reform its procedures and regulations.