The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs wasted nearly $ 2 million when most of the smartphones purchased during the pandemic for homeless veterans were not used, the inspector general’s report said.
A report released Wednesday said the Veterans Health Administration spent nearly $ 7 million to purchase 10,000 phones with unlimited prepaid rates, but 85% of the phones were dusty. As a result, he lost $ 1wdf $ 0.8 million in data plan costs. The Inspector General also found that $ 571,000 was spent on data plans due to poor control over the acquisition of nearly 81,000 iPads.
The smartphones and iPad were purchased as part of efforts to expand homeless veterans ’access to telemedicine, a program that has increased video visits from about 2,500 in February 2020 to 38,000 in September 2020. Veterans were enrolled in the Department of Housing Development VA Housing Support Program.
The Inspector General concluded that the staff of the Veterans Health Administration, who participated in the Connected Care program, in good faith made efforts to help veterans get smartphones. But they found that “there is not enough information for officials to determine the number needed for the target population of veterans.”
The Inspector General recommended improving the storage of smartphones and tablets.
He urged the VA “to set a realistic target for a few days in storage along with a process to closely monitor storage days for each tariff plan provider and take corrective action if the target is not met”. He also called for a cost-benefit analysis in coordination with contractors to create a process that starts charging for the data plan only after the device is issued to the veteran.
In the case of the iPad, Connected Care officials purchased 80,930 with prepaid data plans for about $ 63 million. But those iPads remained in storage for an average of 17 days, the inspector general found, which ended up costing the VA more than $ 571,000 in plans to waste data.
“Officials could reduce the cost of spending on a data plan by setting a realistic goal for a few days of storage, closely tracking storage days for devices with each type of data plan, and then taking corrective action if necessary,” the report said.
The VA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in the report, the VA Deputy Health Minister agreed with the recommendations.
The agency said it plans to work with its Denver logistics center to analyze inventory, tablet use and supplies over the past year. It then offers advice on how long the device should be in storage, a system to monitor it and corrective action if storage goals are not met. He also plans to consider a new process that will either launch data plans when devices are released, or consider other ways to reduce data plan costs.
The VA said the Connected Care program also donates surplus iPhones with loans to the Office of Homeless Veterans Health Program so coordinators can give iPhones to any veteran who lacks stable housing and needs a device.
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