DETROIT, MI – In January of 2016, the Office of Inspector General received an allegation that the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit, purchased 300 televisions (TVs) and accessories in September 2013 for about $311,000.
The complainant alleged the facility never installed the TVs because they were the wrong type. Thus, the facility could not use the TVs, which remain in storage. The Office of Inspector General substantiated the allegation the Dingell VA Medical Center had not installed and used 282 of the 300 TVs, or associated accessories it purchased.
The facility acquired the equipment in September 2013 as part of a project to replace the patient TV system in the facility, but as of April 2016, 282 of the TVs and associated accessories were not in use.
Despite having all the TVs and accessories on hand for nearly 2 1/2 years, the facility was unable to install the items in the patient rooms because the items did not meet the design specifications identified in the patient TV system architect and engineer (AE) services contract.
The Office of Inspector General determined Detroit John D. Dingell VA Medical Center officials did not communicate with the AE contractor in a timely manner to ensure the TVs purchased were compatible with the project design and specifications. Thus, the Detroit VA Medical Center issued a contract modification for $19,052 to adjust the project design and specifications to support the TVs purchased. The TVs and related accessories should have been purchased closer to award of the construction contract.
By purchasing these items well before a construction contract to install them was awarded, the facility exposed itself to unnecessary financial risk in the event it did not proceed with the project. As of June 21, 2016, the facility had not yet awarded a contract to install these TVs. By purchasing too early in the process, the facility also allowed valuable warranties to expire, increasing the risk of incurring additional expenses to replace any faulty TVs.
The Office of Inspector General recommended the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 10 Acting Director strengthen policy to ensure the proper equipment is purchased at the appropriate time, as well as develop and implement a plan to use the purchased TVs. They also recommended the VISN 10 Acting Director determine whether a bona fide needs violation occurred, and take appropriate corrective action if required.
The VISN 10 Acting Director concurred with the recommendations and provided plans for corrective action. They will monitor planned actions and follow up on their implementation.