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Sen. Moran blasts VA for spending a half-million dollars on art - KOAM TV 7

Sen. Moran blasts VA for spending a half-million dollars on art

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NEWS RELEASE ISSUED OCTOBER 7, 2013 BY THE OFFICE OF U.S. SENATOR JERRY MORAN (KAN.)

Sen. Moran Blasts VA for Spending a Half-Million Dollars on Art
In letter to Sec. Shinseki, requests justification for purchase in final days of FY 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today called on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to justify their purchase of $562,000 of artwork in the final days of Fiscal Year 2013.

“At a time when the nation’s crushing debt threatens the well-being of our veterans and all Americans, and when spending across the government is being reduced, I fail to comprehend the reason why this purchase was authorized,” Sen. Moran said in the letter to VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki.

Sen. Moran went on to request a justification for what he sees as a complete failure to prioritize the spending of taxpayer dollars. The senator also outlined several examples of VA programs that could have put a half-million dollars to good use.

“If the overall fiscal stability of our country is not of sufficient concern, then the VA should have at least prioritized service to veterans who continue to wait inordinate lengths of time to receive decisions on benefit claims,” Sen. Moran said to Sec. Shinseki. “These funds also would have been better spent filling positions in Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Kansas and other rural states where staffing remains an acute problem to which the VA is struggling to respond adequately. Among these and many other problems before the VA, it is very troubling that appropriations were not put to better use.”

The Washington Post recently reported the purchase as part of a “use it or lose it” shopping spree by agencies concerned that they will lose their allotted funds if they are not spent before October 1. Additionally, there is concern among agencies that they could face decreased funding levels in the future if appropriated funds are not spent by the end of each fiscal year.

Please find below the full text of Sen. Moran’s letter to Sen. Shinseki:

The Honorable Eric K. Shinseki

Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs

810 Vermont Ave, NW

Washington, D.C. 20420

Dear Secretary Shinseki:

I was appalled to learn that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spent $562,000 on artwork the week before the 2013 fiscal year concluded. At a time when the nation’s crushing debt threatens the well-being of our veterans and all Americans, and when spending across the government is being reduced, I fail to comprehend the reason why this purchase was authorized.

If the overall fiscal stability of our country is not of sufficient concern, then the VA should have at least prioritized service to veterans who continue to wait inordinate lengths of time to receive decisions on benefit claims. These funds also would have been better spent filling positions in Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Kansas and other rural states where staffing remains an acute problem to which the VA is struggling to respond adequately. Among these and many other problems before the VA, it is very troubling that appropriations were not put to better use.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, it is a priority of mine to ensure the well-being of all veterans, which entails providing the VA with the means necessary to care for them. I personally pledged to you both in a public hearing and privately in my office that I am an ally in helping you do your job. I ask that you work to restore my confidence in the VA by ensuring your agency is spending taxpayer money in a responsible, effective manner that best serves the interests of America’s veterans.

I request a justification for the purchase of over a half-million dollars of artwork for the VA and look forward to a timely response.

Sincerely,

Jerry Moran

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