L COMPTROLLER GENERAL QP THE UN WA!SHINGTON. D.C. 20848 /J 5x59.5 I' Dear Senator Schweiker: Pn accordance with your request dated May 18, 1971, we P- examined into statements made to you by certain employees of 7 i ,-,the Veterans Administration __ -.~ (VA) Hos$>-Sal, University Drive, 44% I' PittsbG$j$~ PennsyPvaniz$, concerC%%g possible hospital mis- '1)_, ,t ,: *-ir .22 i management. 4' -=.._ VA has two hospitals in Pittsburgh, the Leech Farm Road VA Hospital and the University Drive VA Hospitali The Uni- versity Drive VA Hospital is composed of two geographically separate divisioras, the Oakland Division and the Aspinwall Division. As agreed with your office, our examination covered the following matters: (1) inappropriate use of purchase and hire (P$H) eqgkgs~es , (2) use of VA laboratory _I_-. facilities for nonofficial purposes B (31 denial of hospital services to a -=~e!b and (4% occupancy of VA housekeeping quarters by former employees. Our examination included discussions with VA Central Of- fice officials, University Drive VA Hospital officials, a field representative of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at Pittsburgh, and an official of the National Insti- tutes of Health. We reviewed VA regulations and examined VA records at the Central Office and at the University Drive VA Hospital. The results of our examination into each of the four matters are discussed in detail in the following sectians. INAPPROPRIATE USE OF P$H EMPLOYEES The statement was made that PGH employees, assigned to work at the VA hospital, were working on non-VA jobs but nevertheless were paid by VA. We were furnished with a copy of a statement made by the Maintenance Supervisor of the En- gineering Division, University Drive VA Hospital, in which it was claimed that (I) the labor costs for certain PGH employ- ees had been charged against a project other than the one upoln which work was actually performed and (2) although the Maintenance Supervisor had been charged with keeping labor job timecards for certain PGH employees, he did not have su- iervisory authority over them. - - - .giiy~ 50TX ANNIVERSARY 1921- 1971 . . . . L B-173144 P&H employees are laborers and craftsmen hired on an hourly basis to work on nonrecurring major repair and renova- tion projects which have been approved by the Hospital Direc- tor or by the VA Central Office for use of PGH employees. VA Manual b!P-5, part I, chapter 532, states that: "The P$H pay basis is appropriate for the replace- ment of entire systems, building service equipment, and structural elements requiring personnel and equipment not normally available at the station to the extent that Federal personnel are used as dis- tinguished from contractual personnel. This in- cludes work necessary to extend the useful life expectancy of real property such as major mainte- nance to update facilities and replacement of build- ing service systems or major items of building service equipment." For nonrecurring major repair and renovation projects, VA procedures provide for determining whether it is' less costly to do the work with (1) PGH employees only, (2) a private con- tractor supplemented by PGH employees (modified-contract method), or (3) a private contractor assuming responsibility for the entire project (contract method). VA officials told us that the purpose of using PGH employees was either to re- duce total project costs or to ackelerate project completion. We discussed the need for and use of PGH employees at the University Drive VA Hospital with the Chief, Project De- velopment Section, Engineering Division, who is responsible for all nonrecurring maintenance programs. He informed us that PGH employees were used for only nonrecurring major main- tenance and renovation projects approved by the VA Central Of- fice. He stated that the number of PGH employees varied with the work load and that such employees could be hired or re- leased whenever necessary. At the time of our inquiry, there were 12 PGH employees on the payroll. In regard to the statement that PeH employees were work- ing on non-VA jobs, VA officials informed us that it was not uncommon S when using' the modified-contract method to perform nonrecurring major repair and ienovation work, for.PEH employ- ees to work partially under the direction of a contractor when performing segments of a project not included in the contract. Under a modified-contract arrangement, for example, if a private contractor had contractual responsibility for all 2 B-173144 phases of a construction project except plumbing installation, VA could assign PGH employees to work on the project to in- stall the plumbing, In such cases PFH employees technically are under the direct supervision of VA supervisors; however, the PGH employees receive their instructions from the con- tractor to provide for effective coordination of the project. Therefore the fact that P&H employees were paid by VA while working on VA projects under the direction of a private contractor did not necessarily constitute improper use of PGH employees, Our review of hospital records showed no evidence that PfaH employees had been paid for time that they did not work on VA projects, With regard to the Maintenance Supervisor*s statement that labor costs for P&H employees were being charged to proj- ects other than those to which the employees were assigned, we were unable to determine whether this had taken place and, if so, the extent to which labor costs had been improperly charged, The only records available that document the work performed by the P&H employees are the labor job timecards, and these show only the projects charged. Thus we could not verify the accuracy of the data provided by the labor job timecards. The Maintenance Supervisor stated that he prepared the labor job timecards on the basis of information supplied to him by his superior, the General Foremm, rather than on the basis of personal observation since he did not have supervi- sory authority over the P6H employees. He advised us, how- ever, that he had no complaints about the quality of the work perforaged by PEH employees or about the purposes for which they were hired, We believe that good management practice requires the individual responsible for signing the labor job timecards to be aware of the facts to which be is certifying. We brought this matter to the attention of the Assistant Hospital Direc- tor who stated that he would determine the type of procedural changes that might be required. USE OF VA LABORATORY FACILITIES We were furnished with written statements by two VA hos- pital laboratory stenographers o in regard to the claimed use of VA facilities for nonofficial purposes, that a certain doctor had performed laboratory diagnostic tests for private 3 B-173144 physicians and tha% these physicians might have paid him $10 a test for these services. Our review showed that this doctor served as Chief of Laboratory Services from October 1954 un%il December 1956 and served intermitten%fy in various capaci%ies in Labora%ory Ser- vices a% the University Drive VA Hospital from December 1956 un%il September 1970. In September 1970 this doc%or received an appoin%men% from the hospi%al as a paid consultant and curren%ly is employed as such, The Hospi%al Director told us that the FBI has investi- gated %his doctor’s activities a% the VA hospi%al. The U.S. Attorney’s office, Pi%%sburgh, in Jlaaae 1971 declined to con- sider prosecutive action based on facts developed by %he FBI investigation, The Investigation and Securi%y Services VA, stareed an investiga%ion in Augus% 1971, of the statements made concern- ing %his particular doc%or, Because of the investigation by VAgs Investigaeion and Securi%y Service, we believed it inap- propriate at this time to more fully examine into this ma%%er. We have, however, made arrangements to obtain a copy of the repor% ,when VA’s inveseigation has been compfe%ed. DENIAL OF HOSPITAL SERVICES TO A VETERAN Our review indicated %hat the s%a%emen% that the VA hos- pi%a% s%aff had refused to %rea% a hospital patient for his diabe%ic condition was no% accurate, According %s,%he pa- %iea%‘s hospital records o he was a patient a% %he hospi%al and was receiving care for his diabetic condition a% the %ime that he was supposedly denied admission on Yanuary 12) 1971. Hospital records also showed that %he veteran had a toe amputation on October 29, 1970, and a below-the-knee amputa- tion on December 29, 1970. We was gran%ed several periods of home leave in April 1971. We no%ed tha% he was readmitted on May 9, 1971, and was s%ill a pa%ien% in %he hospital at the %ime of our fieldwork. B-173144 The statement was made that two former employees were living in VA-furnished housekeeping quarters at the Aspinwall Division. The two employees cited had been emp%oyed as an as- sistant hospitab director and a hospita% pathoaogist on a paid-consultant basis) respectively. Our review showed that the former Assistant Hospital Di- rector had been transferred to the VA Central Office on No- vember 118, 31969, We were informed that, due to personal reasons ) he had requested that his fami%y be allowed to con- tinue occupying housekeeping quarters at the hospital. With the approval of the Hospita% Director, he continued to occupy the quarters at the VA hospitaf and paid the rental charge for the use of the quarters. The emplioyee was transferred on August 8, %97%, to Saginaw, Michigan. The Hospital Director was of the view that continued occupancy of station quarters by the former Assistant Hospital Director was proper because he had remained a VA employee and because VA regulations did not specifically prohibit occu- pancy of a station9s housekeeping quarters by a VA employee not currently assigned to that station. In a March .%97% Xnterna% Audit Service report concerning the University Drive VA Hospitall, VA auditors stated that, “unless otherwise approved by Centra% Office, housekeeping quarters should be assigned only to station emp%dyees.r9 To comply with this recommendation, the Hospital Director re- quested that the Regional Medical Director review the appro- priateness of occupancy of station quarters by the former Assistant Hospitalb Director’s family. Staff in the Regional Medical Director’s office told us that the request had not been acted on because a decision had been made to transfer the employee to Saginaw and that there- fore he would be moving his fami%y to the new %ocation, VA officials did not indicate whether occupancy of VA housekeep- ing quarters at a particular station by a VA employee not as- signed to that station was proper or whether extenuating circumstances woul’d permit such an arrangement. We agree with the Hospita% Director’s assessment that the VA regulations do not specifically prohibit continued occu- pancy of station housekeeping quarters by former station em- ployees after they are transferred to another VA location. 5 c , * . . \_ . . >. ‘ . . B-173144 In regard to the occupancy of station housekeeping quar- ters by a pathologist, we noted that the pathologist had been employed as a consultant at the VA hospital but that, on Sep- tember 18, 1970, his employment status was changed to that of part-time resident physician. Because VA regulations permit occupancy of station housekeeping quarters by certain station employees, the pathologist was qualified to occupy, at the discretion of the Hospital Director, VA-furnished housekeep- ing quarters. We trust that the above information will serve the pur- - pose of your inquiry. Sincerely yours, DeputyI Comptroller General of the United States The Honorable Richard S. Schweiker United States Senate 6
Possible Hospital Mismanagement of the Veterans Administration Hospital, University Drive, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-11-12.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)