AJC Watchdog: First Alert

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Atlanta whistleblower to Trump: Address ongoing "nightmare" in VA's systems

An Atlanta-based whistleblower who helped expose failures in the VA's national health enrollment system called on President-elect Trump to appoint a strong executive to fix the troubled agency.

Scott Davis, a communications official at the national Health Eligibility Center headquartered off Clairmont Road in DeKalb County, wrote to the incoming president in an open letter published this week in the Washington Examiner newspaper.

He mentioned many of the issues he helped expose through a series of articles published in the AJC in 2014 and described them as persistent problems. He specifically said families of thousands of veterans who died waiting for care while they were on a pending backlog overseen by the center need a plan for equitable relief.

He said there are unresolved system errors in enrollment system that have denied nearly 30,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans health benefits.

"Your administration will also need to address a records management nightmare," he wrote, later adding that "Our agency doesn't need a cheerleader at the helm. These difficult times call for a strong leader who knows the inner-workings of the organization that can hit the ground running."

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's name has surfaced this week as a possible contender for the VA secretary job. Davis, however, said he'd like to see someone like Congressman Jeff Miller, who chairs the veterans oversight committee in the House, to head the agency.

Amid the VA wait time scandal and other problems in recent years, Miller, a Florida republican, has been among the most aggressive members of Congress to seek accountability within the sprawling agency of more than 300,000 employees. Davis testified before Miller's committee in July 2014 and talked about the problems in the national enrollment office in Atlanta.

His allegations were later confirmed by an inspector general's report that came out last year.

"I think if (Trump's) serious about fixing VA he needs to look to someone like Congressman Jeff Miller," Davis told the AJC. "He's been fighting for reform in Congress for years."

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About the Author

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