Second Veterans Affairs official resigns after conference overspending

The training conferences in question were held in Orlando. The training conferences in question were held in Orlando. Songquan Deng/

Another Veterans Affairs Department official has resigned in the aftermath of a scathing inspector general’s report on poor oversight of spending on two training conferences held in Orlando, Fla., in 2011.

A VA spokeswoman on Tuesday partially confirmed press reports that Alice Muellerweiss, dean of the VA’s Learning University, left on Friday, and that Tonya Deanes, associate deputy assistant secretary for VA’s Office of Human Resource Management, was reassigned to other duties.

The two, along with John Sepúlveda, the assistant secretary for human resources and administration who resigned in late September, were named in the IG report released in October. It said they failed to provide proper oversight in the planning and execution of the two conferences and that “this lack of proper oversight resulted in imprudent expenditures” by senior employees, conference planners and other human resources employees.

“As recommended in the OIG report, VA has taken action to implement policies that strengthen oversight of training conferences, improve accountability, and safeguard taxpayer dollars,” said the new VA statement, which did not use the employees’ names.

Muellerweiss’ resignation was first reported by the D.C. Examiner.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement, “There is an evident leadership crisis at the Department of Veterans Affairs that is distracting from its core mission of providing timely assistance to our nation’s heroes. When outrageous spending abuses at General Services Administration conferences were first brought to light, it seemed unlikely that GSA was the only government agency that was abusing taxpayer dollars…. While the head of the GSA resigned so that her agency could begin rebuilding lost trust, the parade of VA officials slowly stepping down over several months without accepting responsibility is a troubling sign that the VA is not yet positioned to move beyond this abuse.”

(Image via Songquan Deng/

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