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Investigators cite wasteful spending at two conferences

Federal investigators are estimating that the Veterans Affairs Department wastefully spent about $762,000 at two conferences in Florida last year and that senior leadership failed to provide proper oversight in planning and hosting the events.

The VA’s inspector general said 11 of the department’s employees also accepted improper gifts from contractors seeking to do business with the government.

Members of Congress from both parties said the findings demonstrated that the department lacks an adequate system of checks and balances to ensure it’s a good steward of taxpayer dollars.

In all, the conferences in Orlando cost about $6.1 million and were held to fulfill valid training needs for nearly 1,800 VA employees.

The department said the expenses and gifts cited in the report represented serious lapses in oversight and judgment.

From wire dispatches and staff reports