Thursday, May 22, 2014

The VA Scandal Exposes A Common Government Problem: Bad Management

I think most knowledgeable people on Capitol Hill agree that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has had a backlog of problems for years; if not decades.  So, the full burden of the problem should not be leveled just against the current President.

What makes the current scandal so egregious, however, is the fact that the backlog problems were being fictitiously cleared up by creating two sets of books.  One set, the real-but-pared-down waiting list of  patients, was the one used to roll the statistics upwards to VA management to show that the backlog situation was being well controlled.  Another set was kept secretly and it contained the names of veterans who, for whatever reasons, were intentionally excluded from the official waiting list; and, these people just sat in limbo until some died.  Let me repeat: people died.  For that, Obama and his VA chief, Eric Shinseki, must take responsibility.

It seems like, whenever there is a scandal associated with government, the person at the top of the agency or department involved, was put there solely on the basis of political patronage.  With all the known problems associated with the VA, Obama should have appointed someone who had a track record as a problem solver.  Perhaps, some corporate executive that had turned a failing corporation around. Even a current or former hospital adminstrator would have been a better pick.  At least, then, the person running the VA would have some experience with how hospitals should be run.

Instead, Obama put Eric Shinseki in charge.  And, why?  He was the first high ranking military person to speak out against George Bush's intent to invade Iraq.  Thus, as a darling of the left, the President desperately had to find a job for him in his new cabinet; and, it didn't matter if he really knew anything about the job.

The same could be said about Kathleen Sibelius and the failed roll out of ObamaCare and its website. It just seemed like Obama was hell bent on putting her in some job; any job.  First, she was rumored to be on the short list to be picked as his running mate.  Then, after he won, she was considered to be in the front runner for Secretary of Commerce.  Only, after Tom Daschle was forced to decline the HHS slot (due to another scandal) did Sibelius get the job.  How's that for always being second best?

Also, there's Hillary Clinton when, as head of the State Department, her incompetence lead to the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three others at Benghazi.  In 4 years as Secretary of State, she has nearly zero accomplishments to speak of.  She was only thrown that huge bone of a job because she lost the presidential primary to Barack Obama.

I just wish that the practice of political patronage and bad management would end.  The U.S. government is too large and too complex to have the "cabin boy" at the helm of such critical Departments like the VA.  Political payback is a so ingrained in our political system that I don't see it ever ending unless the people "get mad as hell" instead of getting a feigned "mad as hell" from the very President who put Shinseki in charge and who, obviously, has yet to roll a single head over the scandal.


Dec. 2008: Veterans Resource Network: Eric Shinseki (unqualified); Obama's Pick For VA Secretary:

Wikipedia: Kathleen Sibelius:

Report: State Dept Ignored Hundreds of Warnings of Benghazi Attack:

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