IG reports detail abuses in hiring, travel, bonuses at VA technology office

By Gautham Nagesh 08/20/2009

Former high-ranking information technology officials at the Veterans Affairs Department gave preferential treatment to certain contractors, engaged in nepotism in hiring and, in one case, took advantage of a relationship with a supervisor for personal gain, according to a new report from the department’s inspector general.   Two reports published Thursday indicate VA’s former Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology, Robert Howard, allowed employees to abuse their authority for the benefit of friends and family. The first report says Howard engaged in an “inappropriate personal relationship” with Katherine Adair Martinez, former deputy assistant secretary for information protection and risk management in VA’s Office of Information and Technology from April 2007 until the spring of 2009.   “It is deeply disappointing that any governmental official would abuse authority entrusted to them by the public,” said Rep. Stephen Buyer, R-Ind., the ranking member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee. “But it is especially disturbing when abuse of authority occurs at the agency responsible for the care and well-being of our nation’s veterans. I expect that swift, appropriate administrative action will be taken against the employees allegedly involved in these incidents.”



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