Monday, May 01, 2006

A billion here, a billion there . . .

As Everett Dirksen once said about the Defense budget, a billion year, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Yesterday it was scandal at the FDA. Today let's do the Veteran's Administration.
A subcommittee of the House Veterans Affairs Committee has opened a preliminary inquiry into a veterans administration contract with QTC Management Inc., a firm headed by former Veterans Secretary Anthony J. Principi.

Brooke Adams, a spokeswoman for the committee, said Friday that members agreed to the bipartisan inquiry after a report in The [Los Angeles] Times on QTC's multimillion-dollar contract to conduct medical examinations of veterans applying for disability assistance.


Principi has stated that he recused himself from all matters relating to QTC during his four-year tenure as VA secretary ending in early 2005. QTC and department officials have also stated that the contracts were awarded in full accordance with federal bidding requirements.

Principi was the president of QTC in late 2000 when he was nominated by President Bush for the top veterans post. He returned to the firm, based in Diamond Bar, as chairman of the board in December 2005.

The Times reported Sunday that payments to QTC during Principi's tenure totaled $246 million. The Congressional Budget Office projected fees to QTC of $1.2 billion if its contract with Veterans Affairs was fully funded through 2008.

The original contract was awarded to the firm in 1998 and it won a second contract in 2003. Though the agency advertised for bids in 2002, no other firm submitted a proposal.

The contracts were awarded under a pilot program at 10 locations across the country. Under a series of amendments to those contracts, some approved during Principi's VA tenure, QTC also was authorized to conduct physicals on members of the military prior to their discharge.

The physicals to meet both Department of Defense and VA requirements were billed as cost-saving moves and recommended earlier by a congressional commission headed by Principi, before he joined QTC. (LA Times)
$1.2 billion. Is there no limit to the corruption of this Administration?