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April 27, 2006

Extreme Corruption at Veterans Administration

Imagine if Dick Cheney returned to Halliburton with a nice fat management contract after landing the company lots of lucrative contracts.

That's just about the situation with the Veterans Administration where the former head of the department, Anthony Principi, returned to the company he previously headed, and the company was promptly awarded a $1 billion privatization contract desgined by Principi himself:

Principi’s company, QTC Management, administers medical exams to veterans who need disability assistance. Additionally, the firm also examines soldiers before they are discharged, the results of which play a substantial role in VA disability benefit decisions. Principi was president of QTC before heading the VA from 2001 to 2005. After leaving the VA, Principi returned to the company as chairman of the board.
The LA Times has more on how QTC has been bilking the federal government for years, yet Principi just looked the other way while in charge:
The firm began its relationship with the VA in 1998, conducting disability exams under a pilot program. Principi joined the company in 1999.

QTC's initial performance drew some criticism. As mandated by Congress, its work was reviewed by a private consulting firm, which said QTC's fees were much higher than expected.

A QTC hearing exam, for instance, averaged $495.55 compared with $89.80 for an in-house VA exam. Even with an adjustment for possible hidden VA costs, the difference exceeded 400%. For a general medical exam, QTC's average fee was $393.52 compared with the VA's $225.58, the consultants found. They recommended further cost-comparison studies, but such an analysis was not done...

Right after becoming head of the VA, Principi appointed a task force on the backlog of veterans' claims. In its report to Principi, the panel lauded QTC's performance and recommended that the medical exam program continue or expand.

This illustrates how corruption and the privatization of government services go hand in hand.

Posted by Nathan at April 27, 2006 02:06 PM