- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 18, 2014

The whistleblower at a Phoenix Veteran’s Affairs facility who exposed an alleged secret wait list said Sunday that the best way to fix the system is to keep Secretary Eric Shinseki onboard, even as many veterans groups are calling for his resignation.

“I think our best bet at this point is to keep the secretary onboard, but I think the president needs to keep him on a pretty short leash,” Dr. Sam Foote said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Finding a new secretary would allow for a months-long grace period “for being the new guy,” Dr. Foote said, while the department needs accountability now. He said accepting the resignation of Dr. Robert Petzel, undersecretary of health at the VA, is a good first step.

One way to fix the problem, Dr. Foote said, is to survey employees on the wait times they hear from patients. He said he asked all his patients how long they had been waiting and knew wait times raned between nine months and a year.

After collecting data from staff, Dr. Foote said the government should give VA executives one week to give the real length of wait times. If that number doesn’t match the number from employees, it would immediately be a red flag and require an audit from the inspector general.

Dr. Foote said those in Washington knew the fraud was going on, but didn’t prioritize getting it fixed since it looked like wait times were going down.

“There’s no real incentive on the part of upper management in Washington to get real numbers,” he said.