The U.S. Veterans Affairs Department spent $6.1 million on two lavish conferences – including $49,516 on a parody video of the late-Gen. George S. Patton – prompting the department’s Human Resources chief to resign.
Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration John Sepúlveda stepped down on Sunday after the release of a 142-page report by the department’s Inspector General that found that the VA had spent the money on two weeklong conferences, The Hill r
The report found that Sepúlveda had “abdicated his responsibilities” by not properly overseeing the conferences in Orlando, Fla., The Hill reports. About $762,000 in “unauthorized, unnecessary, and/or wasteful expenses” during the conferences had been investigated.
“Misuse of taxpayer dollars is completely unacceptable,” the VA on Monday in a statement reported by The Hill. “The actions cited in the report represent serious lapses in oversight, judgment, and stewardship.”
About 1,800 VA employees attended the conferences “to fulfill valid training needs,” the report said. But top VA leaders “failed to provide proper oversight,” The Hill reports.
For instance, the report found that lower-level senior officials spent $280,698 on an excessive contract with a Marriott Hotel for audio-visual services, catering, food and drinks, The Hill reports.
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki plans to name senior officials “to review evidence of wrongdoing and to recommend appropriate administrative action,” the agency said in its statement.
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