VA Health Care:

Enforcement of Federal Ethics Requirements at VA Medical Centers

T-HRD-93-22: Published: May 19, 1993. Publicly Released: May 19, 1993.

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GAO discussed whether the employment of Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) medical center managers at medical schools participating in VA contracting activities created a conflict-of-interest, focusing on: (1) federal ethics laws and regulations; (2) VA policies and procedures; (3) outside employment activities of senior managers; and (4) VA contracting procedures and operating practices. GAO noted that: (1) federal ethics requirements limit the employment activities of federal employees who may have conflicting financial interests; (2) VA medical center managers who are most susceptible to potential conflict-of-interest violations are chiefs of staff and chiefs of individual medical services; (3) although VA policies and procedures require dually employed full-time VA managers to obtain prior approval for outside employment and provide sufficient information to assess the possibility of conflict-of-interest, few chiefs of staff and service chiefs have received prior approval; (4) VA headquarters rarely requested or received VA management responsibilities information; (5) part-time service chiefs are not required to seek prior approval for outside employment; (6) although VA has provided adequate guidance to medical center managers concerning dual employment, many senior managers are unaware of dual employment requirements and the potential for conflict of interest; and (7) VA needs to revise its dual employment policies and procedures, establish strengthened enforcement procedures, and develop appropriate guidance to assist medical center managers avoid conflict of interest.

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