by: Elissa Salamy
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs spent $2.3 million on unused data plans and devices, according to an audit by the Veteran Affairs Office of the Inspector General.
Ten thousand iPhones and 80,930 iPads, which cost a combined $71.1 million, were intended to be sent to veterans to facilitate virtual healthcare visits with VA hospitals during the COVID pandemic. The audit found that 85% of the devices were still in storage and unused more than a year after their purchase.
Can you imagine 90,000 devices paid for by taxpayers just sitting in storage?” said Open The Books’ Adam Andrzejewski. “This was a telemedicine health program for homeless veterans funded by Congress during COVID. And they overestimated the demand for the technology.”
The devices were sent to a distribution center in Denver, Colorado, between June 2020 and July 2021.
“Only about 15 out of every 100 devices ever were shipped to veterans,” Andrzejewski said to The National Desk‘s Eugene Ramirez. “It was a logistical problem. The actual hardware had to ship three times: from the manufacturer, say Apple, to a third-party federal contractor, the federal contractor would activate the data plan, ship it to the VA distribution center, who would then ship it to a location where they thought the homeless resident would receive it.”
Watch the full interview www.openthebooks.com