VA Blows $300,000 On The Wrong TVs

The Detroit medical center ordered televisions that didn’t fit in its facility, so they sat in storage for nearly three years.

The Veterans Affairs Department spent more than $300,000 on hundreds of TVs that have sat in storage in Detroit for nearly three years because they were the wrong type of television.

Officials at VA's Detroit medical center didn’t check ahead of time with the contractor installing the new TVs in patient rooms to ensure they properly fit the project’s design and specifications, according to the department’s inspector general. So, out of the 300 televisions the facility bought in September 2013, 282 of them have been gathering dust the past few years because they were purchased before the department awarded the installation contract.

The screw-up to date has cost VA $311,000, according to the watchdog: $292,492 for the TVs and related equipment and $19,052 for changes to the contract.

“Despite not needing the TVs in September 2013, the chief of volunteer and community relations reported the facility purchased them because they had funds available,” the IG report said. “By purchasing these items at least two and a half years before a construction contract to install them was awarded, the Detroit VAMC prevented the use of about $292,500 that could have been better spent on other facility priorities.”

The watchdog received a tip about the unused TVs back in January 2016, and launched an investigation in April. The IG recommended that the acting director of the Veterans Integrated Service Network 10 require the Detroit medical center to tighten its procurement policy to “ensure the proper equipment is purchased at the appropriate time when planning projects requiring the purchase of equipment” and told the facility to figure out a way to use the TVs, or give them to other VA facilities.

The VA agreed with the watchdog’s findings and recommendations, revising its procurement policy and boosting oversight of purchases. The Detroit medical center also is in the process of awarding a contract to install the TVs and expects construction to start this month.