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Dogfight: What Has Two Federal Watchdog Agencies Facing Off?

Image source: AP Photo

Two inspector general agencies are at odds over a finding of misconduct by a Department of Veterans Affairs official, prompting a rare split between oversight officials in the executive branch.

Last year, VA Inspector General Richard Griffin accused then-VA procurement official Iris Cooper of pushing about $15 million in non-competitive VA contracts to a friend’s company and said Cooper had a “lack of candor” with investigators.

Now, Cooper is a contracting official in the Treasury Department, and in a letter to the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Treasury Department Inspector General Eric Thorson is disputing the conclusion of the VA findings.

AP AP

The Treasury IG said in the letter the allegation was influenced by another VA contracting official, who was vengeful because Cooper had accused the official of creating a hostile work environment. That assertion about a vengeful employee was backed up by five witnesses, Thorson said.

“Those witnesses have provided consistent testimony that negates the review’s conclusions and calls into question the VA OIG’s actions in this particular matter,” Thorson wrote.

VA Office of Inspector General spokeswoman Catherine Gromek said in a statement that the agency “absolutely stand[s] behind the findings” of the report on Cooper.

The VA Office of Inspector General discovered the extent of the department’s waiting list scandal last year, which led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

(H/T Washington Post)

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