Dean of VA Learning University resigns, after spending controversy

January 8, 2013

A senior Department of Veterans Affairs official has resigned and a second official has been reassigned in the aftermath of a scandal over the department’s conference spending, according to a VA memorandum.

Alice Muellerweiss, Dean of the VA Learning University, has tendered her resignation effective immediately, according to a staff memorandum issued Friday by Rafael A. Torres, acting assistant secretary for human resources and administration.

In September, John Sepulveda, the department’s assistant secretary for human resources and administration, resigned upon the release of a VA inspector general’s report that found that department conference planners allowed up to $762,000 in unauthorized or wasteful spending.

Muellerweiss, who worked for Sepulveda and oversaw conference training, demonstrated “apparent ignorance of what was taking place within her organization,” according to the VA inspector general’s report.

Tonya Deanes, the deputy assistant secretary for human resources management who was also responsible for the conferences, is moving to a human resources position in the Veterans Health Administration.

“VA has taken administrative action against two career senior executives named in the OIG report,” the VA said in a statement Tuesday. “One employee has subsequently resigned. The other employee has been reassigned to other duties. As recommended in the OIG report, VA has taken action to implement policies that strengthen oversight of training conferences, improve accountability, and safeguard taxpayer dollars.”

In his memo, Torres praised Muellerweiss for doing “a yeoman’s job” in standing up the in-house university, and he said Deane’s extensive experience will be missed.

“The parade of VA officials slowly stepping down over several months without accepting responsibility is a troubling sign that the VA is not yet positioned to move beyond this abuse,” Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-Ca.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement Tuesday.

The resignation was first reported by the Washington Examiner.

Steve Vogel is a reporter for the national staff of The Washington Post who covers the federal government and frequently writes about the military and veterans.
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