Brandishing a photograph of 1,600 boxes, stacked haphazardly in a storage room, Florida U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller of Pensacola opened a congressional hearing Tuesday into the backlog of veterans benefits claims.
The photo Miller referenced came from an Inspector General report that found more than 41,000 packages of veterans’ records from the St. Petersburg Regional VA Benefits Office waiting to be scanned at a contractor's facility in Georgia.
"The IG found that the St. Petersburg regional office had a significant number of unprocessed veterans’ claims information at a scanning contractor facility," Miller directed attendees at the hearing to look at a projected image or inside their packets. "And I’m sure the ranking members are appalled that Florida veterans may have waited longer than any other veteran due to this delay in scanning."
The IG photo is a year old and reportedly those veterans’ records have been secured and scanned. But when asked, VA officials were not able to say if the contractor or VA employees responsible for the mess were held accountable.
Miller, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs, told the VA officials they’ve lost the committee’s trust.
Miller concluded the nearly two hour hearing saying the VA must admit when mistakes are made and must hold their employees and contractors accountable for poor performance.