WASHINGTON – Empower Oversight and Whistleblowers of America renewed their questions to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG), and Veterans Education Success (VES), a service provider with the VA Education Services. The questions revolve around conflicts of interest with the VA and VES and the service provider’s lack of cooperation with the VA Office of Inspector General after whistleblower allegations arose
about the conduct of both entities.
Ahead of Empower Oversight president Tristan Leavitt’s testimony at a House Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing on VA oversight and whistleblower protection, Empower and Whistleblowers of America pressed the VA and the OIG to explain any progress made on recommendations by the whistleblower organizations related to the review of all contractual relationships with anyone who refused to cooperate with the OIG, followed by an assessment as to if those relationships should continue.
In a similar letter to VES, the two whistleblower organizations pushed for answers to questions about what is being done to ensure that the employees cooperate with the OIG’s oversight efforts, and how it is ensuring that VES refrains from participating in contractual relationships that create a conflict of interest.
The questions stemmed from an Office of Inspector General report entitled Former Education Service Executive Violated Ethics Rules and Her Duty to Cooperate Fully with the OIG. The report outlined its review of whistleblower reports of conflicts of interest at the VA and the refusal of three key witnesses who refused to answer all of its questions.
The senior VA official at the center of the probe, Charmain Bogue, resigned from the agency before the OIG’s work was complete, which shielded her from further questioning since the OIG could not compel testimony from former employees at the time. Ms. Bogue’s husband, VES senior communications advisor Barrett Bogue, and VES President Carrie Wofford also refused to testify in the inquiry, according to the OIG.
The whistleblowers organizations’ questions were initially asked in June 2022, but neither Empower Oversight nor Whistleblowers of America have received a response from VES, the VA, or the OIG.
For a copy of today’s letters, click here.