The top Republicans on the House and Senate veterans affairs committees called for the removal of the Department of Veterans Affairs chief of staff Tuesday in the wake of an inspector general’s report last week sharply critical of VA spending at two training conferences last year.
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the ranking member of the Senate Committee, released a letter Tuesday sent Oct. 5 to VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki asking for the removal of VA Chief of Staff John Gingrich.
The VA Office of Inspector General’s report last week into two human resources conferences in Orlando in 2011 criticized Gingrich for his oversight of the matter, saying the costs of the conference should have prompted Gingrich “to ask more questions.”
“To say he treated his responsibility casually is an understatement,” the letter from Miller and Burr said. “We can only conclude that Mr. Gingrich’s role was merely to provide the appearance of oversight, nothing more.”
Shinseki has told Gingrich that his review of the Orlando conferences was “inadequate and that more questions should have been asked prior to authorization,” according to a VA statement last week.
Gingrich served for 30 years in the Army before his retirement as a colonel in 2001, and was a top aide to Shinseki when the latter was chief of staff of the Army.
The VA did not have an immediate response Tuesday to the call for Gingrich’s removal. John Sepulveda, assistant secretary for human resources and administration for the Department of Veterans Affairs, stepped down from his position prior to the IG report’s release Oct. 1.
At a legislative hearing last week, Miller charged that the IG report pointed to a “leadership void” at the VA.
The committees have not received a response from VA.