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Top VA Execs Pocketed $2 Million Using Relocation Program

AP
• September 29, 2015 4:48 pm

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Executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs pulled in a combined $2 million in taxpayer money by taking advantage of a relocation program, an inspector general found.

Top agency officials used a program offered by the department that involves the purchase of their homes at prices that exceed market value, ultimately allowing them to keep the excess money from the sale. The relocation program additionally pays for moving expenses for their new jobs within the department.

Two such executives were found to create jobs for themselves that came with fewer responsibilities while maintaining six-figure salaries.

The IG concluded that 21 of the 23 of the reviewed reassignment cases were found to involve a salary hike, Sarah Westwood of the Washington Examiner reports.

The Examiner further writes on the VA officials:

For example, one executive, Diane Rubens, improperly earned more than $288,000 in taxpayer money to relocate for Philadelphia. Her benefits included a generous payment for alcoholic drinks, which the agency watchdog questioned.

In Rubens' case, the VA reportedly tapped a relocation firm to purchase Rubens' Alexandria, Va. home above market value and sell it at a loss.

Several other VA officials were improperly paid "incentives" totaling $140,000 to fill job vacancies that had never even been announced despite the fact that such payments are supposed to be reserved for positions that the agency finds difficult to fill.

The inspector general concluded the Veterans Benefit Administration had used the relocation program "inappropriately," lining the pockets of executives instead of simply moving employees.