Probe into Vet Affairs spending must come

It turns out that more than $54 million worth of prosthetic arms and legs purchased one at a time by Department of Veterans Affairs employees – charged on purchasing cards at $24,999 apiece – may be just the tip of a very dirty, expensive iceberg.

Earlier this month, it was reported employees of a VA hospital in New York City had bought at least 2,000 of the prosthetics during a two-year period. Each time, the $24,999 purchases were placed on government cards.

It turns out the amount was $1 less than the VA’s limit for use of the cards.

At first, VA officials tried to lie their way out of the mess. They were prepared to tell members of Congress looking into it that records of the purchases had been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. But the timing was wrong for that to have occurred, so the excuse was abandoned.

Now, VA officials say the employees were merely trying to avoid going through the contracting process for the prosthetics. But why?

A letter sent to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, by a deputy assistant secretary, insists the agency’s “doors are swung wide open for fraud, waste and abuse.” It adds that a culture of “lawlessness and chaos” exists in the VA.

The VA spends at least $6 billion a year in violation of federal purchasing rules, McDonald was told by the letter writer.

A full-scale investigation of the VA cesspool should be ordered by Congress. This mess needs to be cleaned up.