AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Atlanta VA whistleblower's story linked to dysfunction in Kansas VA office: "Unfortunately, my experience is not unique in VA."

Atlanta VA whistleblower Scott Davis stepped forward earlier this year to help expose problems at the VA national Health Eligibility Center (HEC) in Atlanta. He has provided information that has helped the AJC investigate problems at the center. On Sunday, the  AJC detailed misleading information put out by senior officials at the VA's Chief Business Office, which includes the HEC.

That same day his Congressional testimony from July appeared in a separate article by the Topeka Capital-Journal that ran a new investigation into problems with the Chief Business Office's (CBO) outpost in Kansas.

That story detailed allegations of systematic intimidation and retaliation by supervisors at the CBO'S Workforce Management office in Topeka. The article quoted one retired Army national guard colonel who said unprofessional conduct was standard in the office charged with providing guidance on personnel and employee relations for VA facilities across the country.

"I have never witnessed such a level of turnover of highly qualified people, hostility and disregard for the welfare of employees," Retired Col. Robert Bloomquist said.

Davis's Congressional testimony was mentioned in the Topeka article. In July he testified in a whistleblower hearing about what happened after he reported possible misconduct in the VA to the White House. That complaint was leaked back to his supervisors and he was harassed after his superiors realized he'd contacted the White House, he testified. His complaint is being investigated by the Office of Special Counsel that protects federal whistleblowers from retaliation.

"My employment records were illegally altered by CBO Workforce Management director Joyce Deters," according to Davis's testimony that was quoted in the Topeka article. "Unfortunately, my experience is not unique in VA."

Deters declined interview requests from the Topeka paper over the course of months.

Here's a link to the AJC's August story that detailed more than 47,000 deceased veterans who appear on a pending backlog list overseen by the Health Eligibility Center. And here's the a story the AJC reported in June.

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About the Author

Brad Schrade is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter on the AJC’s investigative team.