Bronx VA Hospital Spent $54 Million on Prosthetic Arms and Legs by Charging $1 Less than Charge Limit Every Time

Thursday, June 18, 2015
Former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki (AP photo)

Officials at a Veterans Affairs hospital in the Bronx spent $54 million on prosthetics limbs in an unusual way to avoid filling out paperwork.


Employees used agency credit cards, called purchase cards, to buy the limbs. But they did so by charging $24,999–$1 less than the agency’s limit of $25,000 on the cards. Hospital employees performed this transaction at least 2,000 times over two years to buy $54.4 million in prosthetic legs and arms for veterans and failed to keep records to document the purchases.


Even worse is this from The Washington Post: “VA officials had prepared to tell Congress that the records had been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, according to previously undisclosed records, until a senior adviser in [then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s] office pointed out that the timing was wrong and the excuse wouldn’t hold up.”


Jan Frye, deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, who uncovered the purchases, accused the Veterans Health Administration of operating a culture of “lawlessness and chaos.” He told members of Congress that he found up to $1.2 billion in prosthetics were bought with cards and without contracts over the course of 18 months.


Frye testified that the purchase cards should generally be used for medical care or devices costing about $3,000, according to the Post.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

The Mysterious Case of $54 Million VA Spent on Prosthetics in $24,999 Payments (by Lisa Rein, Washington Post)


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