Leaders of the House Veterans Affairs Committee have said that they will explore in an upcoming hearing issues raised in a recent IG report criticizing management of the inventory of medical supplies in VA facilities.
After initially focusing on just one facility, the IG expanded the scope of its work and found widespread problems not only of shortages—19 percent of supplies reviewed during visits to 11 VA medical facilities were under-stocked, raising the risk that items would not be available when needed for patient care—but also of over-stocking, resulting in wasteful spending.
Proper inventory management requires that VA medical center staff “distribute supplies to the correct location, document the results of required wall-to-wall inventories, properly secure inventory, and apply appropriate barcodes for tracking. The OIG found that these practices were not applied in many VAMCs, which resulted in pallets of medical supplies left in unsecured areas and distribution of supplies to invalid locations,” the report said.
Some of the issues stemmed from “failure to provide adequate oversight” of a migration to a new inventory control system, but other factors also contributed, “including inaccurate or nonexistent general inventory management practices,” the IG said.
It said that VA management agreed with its recommendations; the committee said that its hearings will examine how the department is carrying them out.