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Posted: 11:03 a.m. Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Atlanta whistleblower to testify on VA scandal

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Atlanta whistleblower to testify on VA scandal photo
Scott Davis, an employee at the VA Health Eligibility Center who will testify before Congress next week, talks on his cell phone as he walks past the Health Eligibility Center (right) in Atlanta on June 25, 2014. Investigators are examining allegations that thousands of veteran health care applications were purged improperly by Atlanta-based Veterans Affairs office that manages enrollment nationwide, according to VA employees interviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

By Brad Schrade

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A Veterans Affairs whistleblower from Atlanta has been invited to testify before Congress in a hearing next Tuesday that will examine the growing number of whistleblower complaints across the Veterans Health Administration and a pattern of retaliation against those who speak out.

Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA’s national Health Eligibility Center (HEC) in DeKalb County, confirmed for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Congressman Jeff Miller, R-Florida, invited him to testify next Tuesday at the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, which Miller chairs.

Davis drew the attention of the committee following Sunday’s article in the AJC that detailed his effort as a whistleblower at the HEC, where he says mismanagement and a focus on bonuses for top leaders hurt veterans programs. Davis said he was retaliated against when he started speaking out about the problems in January, which included his allegation that a $5 million federal contract was mismanaged by HEC.

He said he plans to tell the committee about these problems and the retaliation faced by those who speak out.

“It seems surreal because you shout for so long with no one listening and now to be able to go be able go before Congress I think is an amazing victory for the fight for quality veteran healthcare,” said Davis. Davis, whose story is gaining national attention, is also scheduled to be interviewed on Fox News at 4 p.m. today with Neil Cavuto.

The VA Inspector General’s office is investigating some of the problems, including the possible purging of more than 10,000 veterans health applications. Davis said since Sunday’s article ran other VA whistleblowers in Atlanta have reached out to share their experience.

“I plan to (also) tell the story of other whistleblowers who have contacted me since the article ran,” Davis said.

In Washington Tuesday, Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson pledged to protect employees from retaliation in a meeting with Carolyn Lerner, special counsel of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which investigates whistleblower complaints across all agencies of the U.S. government. Last week, Lerner issued a scathing letter to the White House, detailing problems with how the VA treats whistleblowers.

The Health Eligibility Center where Davis works manages enrollment and eligibility across the VA system and helps provide guidance and oversight on these matters to the VA’s 152 hospitals across the country.

Log on to MyAJC.com to watch video of whistleblower Scott Davis.

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