Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nominee For Veteran's Secretary Connected To Past Scandal

By Cernig

Bush has nominated a new veteran's affairs chief honcho.
President Bush on Tuesday nominated retired Army Lt. Gen. James Peake to direct the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs, which is strained by the influx of wounded troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

``He will work tirelessly to eliminate backlogs and ensure that our veterans receive the benefits they need to lead lives of dignity and purpose,'' Bush said.

Peake, 63, is a physician who spent 40 years in military medicine and was decorated for his service in Vietnam. He retired from the Army in 2004 after being lead commander in several medical posts, including four years as the U.S. Army surgeon general.

``He will be the first physician and the first general to serve as secretary,'' Bush said, standing next to Peake in the Roosevelt Room.

The nomination comes as the administration and Congress struggle to find clear answers to some of the worst problems afflicting wounded warriors, such as adequate mental health treatment and timely payment of disability benefits. Disclosures emerged in February of shoddy outpatient treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Peake currently is chief medical director and chief operating officer of QTC Management Inc., which provides government-outsourced occupational health, injury and disability examination services. If confirmed by the Senate, Peake would lead the government's second-largest agency with 235,000 employees in the waning months of the Bush administration.

When Congress hold their confirmation hearings, they might want to ask questions about Peake's firm, which is headed by former Veterans Secretary Anthony J. Principi.
A subcommittee of the House Veterans Affairs Committee has opened a preliminary inquiry into a veterans administration contract with QTC Management Inc., a firm headed by former Veterans Secretary Anthony J. Principi.

Brooke Adams, a spokeswoman for the committee, said Friday that members agreed to the bipartisan inquiry after a report in The [Los Angeles] Times on QTC's multimillion-dollar contract to conduct medical examinations of veterans applying for disability assistance.

...Principi has stated that he recused himself from all matters relating to QTC during his four-year tenure as VA secretary ending in early 2005. QTC and department officials have also stated that the contracts were awarded in full accordance with federal bidding requirements.

Principi was the president of QTC in late 2000 when he was nominated by President Bush for the top veterans post. He returned to the firm, based in Diamond Bar, as chairman of the board in December 2005.

The Times reported Sunday that payments to QTC during Principi's tenure totaled $246 million. The Congressional Budget Office projected fees to QTC of $1.2 billion if its contract with Veterans Affairs was fully funded through 2008.
Sounds to me like a revolving door corporate welfare scheme.

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