Congressional Republicans call for resignation of VA chief of staff

Veterans Affairs Department

This story has been updated.

Senior congressional Republicans on Tuesday called for the resignation of John Gingrich, chief of staff at the Veterans Affairs Department, following a report detailing improper spending at VA conferences.

In an Oct. 5 letter, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C, ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, asked VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to remove Gingrich from his job.

“With the utmost respect for Mr. Gingrich’s service to the nation in uniform and in public service, we believe the appropriate administrative action is his immediate removal as VA chief of staff,” Miller and Burr wrote.

Miller and Burr cited Gingrich’s approval of an$8 million budget for two 2011 human resources conferences in Florida that were later found to be wasteful. Gingrich provided only “the appearance of oversight,” the lawmakers said.

“Accountability begins at the top,” they added. “In this instance, the VA chief of staff cavalierly approved an exorbitant conference budget under the guise of a process meant to safeguard against that very occurrence.”

A report by the VA inspector general’s office detailing the department’s excessive conference spending already claimed the job of John Sepulveda, the assistant secretary for human resources and administration. In addition, two employees were placed on administrative leave, pending review, as a result of the report’s findings.

The report said the department spent more than $6 million during the summer of 2011 on two conferences, a portion of which went to a parody video, artisan cheese displays, karaoke equipment and spa treatments. The IG said the spending failures were attributed mainly to poor “contract execution,” and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki had instituted measures to increase oversight.

As The Washington Post noted, Gingrich served in the Army for 30 years before retiring as a colonel in 2001. He also was as a top aide during Shinseki’s tenure as the Army’s chief of staff.

In a statement issued on Wednesday night, a VA spokesman said that the department had addressed Gingrich’s conduct, and placed two other employees on leave pending review of their actions. Additionally, the VA has implemented measures to increase accountability for conferences costing more than $20,000. Events with a price tag of more than $100,000 now require approval by the deputy secretary and the chief of staff.

“At the secretary’s direction, VA has implemented a comprehensive action plan to revise and strengthen policies and controls on the planning and execution of training conferences as recommended in the final OIG report,” the spokesman stated. “Secretary Shinseki and the entire team at the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue our work to serve America’s veterans.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.