The state auditor has released a special audit report of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs.
The audit is the third to be released on the ODVA in the last five years and was requested by the state attorney general's office.
“The issue, really, comes down to management style, common decency, respect for its mission, and the potential impact on patient care,” State Auditor Gary Jones said.
The report repeatedly cites issues in which policy and procedural changes are implemented without communication from the agency’s central office as to the reason for the policy change or management’s expectations resulting from the changes.
Personnel, from administrators to nurse’s aides, have been abruptly terminated while other employees purportedly work under constant threat they could be next.
“We’re talking about people here,” Jones said. “People who served our country that now need long-term care and the people who provide that care which was so richly earned and deserved. Unfortunately, ODVA personnel are working in a fog of mistrust resulting from poor communication by the agency’s executive director and the apparent constant threat of termination.”
Since completion of field work and drafting of the audit report, administrative policy and procedural changes have continued to occur.
“It’s common for auditors to hear from the employees of an entity being audited,” Jones said. “The number of calls coming from ODVA employees because of this audit is unlike anything we’ve experienced before.”
The report offers six recommendations to increase board oversight, improve communication, conduct certain independent reviews prior to pushing out new policies, procedures, or practices, and have an independent review of financial controls and other operational areas that have undergone recent, significant changes.
The ODVA released the following statement after the audit was made public:
We are presently reviewing the State Auditor’s report. Where matters of significance have been raised, we look forward to taking the appropriate corrective action.