VA's e-contract database underused

Friday - 4/22/2011, 3:33pm EDT

Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.)

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By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

Contracts at the Department of Veterans Affairs are supposed to be entered into its Electronic Contract Management System, or ECMS, allowing people to go online and track contracts worth $25,000 or more.

But the Inspector General's office at VA found 83 per cent of contracts weren't being entered.

"These dollars that are not spent wisely don't go to patient care, the care of veterans or to expand and get another project," said Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), a member of the House Veterans Affairs Oversight and Investigations subcommittee.

Roe said the fact that ECMS is underutilized does not mean contracted funds are improperly spent. However, currently, there is no way to hold VA and contractors accountable.

Roe said the VA claims a lack of leadership for implementing ECMS.

"I don't think that's acceptable," Roe said.

Part of the problem is the lack of penalties for not carrying out the mandate, he said.

"We ought to make sure VA can carry this out or don't have it at all," Roe said.

Or, if ECMS needs to be "tuned up, then let's tune it up," he said.

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