Senators are being urged to carry out a thorough vetting of President Biden’s nominee for the Deputy Secretary role at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by two government watchdog groups. The request comes in light of Tanya Bradsher’s potential involvement in the VA’s Integrated Enterprise Workflow Solution (VIEWS) system, which left veterans’ personal information vulnerable. This oversight caused the Office of Special Counsel to conclude there was a “substantial likelihood of wrongdoing” in relation to the data breach.
Bradsher, who is currently the chief of staff of VA Secretary Denis McDonough, has been the subject of intense scrutiny due to her authority over VIEWS. The Office of Special Counsel had asked the department to complete the investigation of VIEWS within 60 days, but almost a year later, the VA still has no answers for the breach. The VA asked for multiple extensions every 60 days, repeatedly pushing back its obligation to investigate the situation.
Tristan Leavitt, the President of Empower Oversight, and Jacqueline Garrick, the Founder of Whistleblowers of America, penned the letter to Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Jon Tester, D-Mont., and ranking member Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. The letter highlighted their concerns about Bradsher’s potential appointment, insisting that she was responsible for the VIEWS system’s failings, putting the private information of veterans and others at risk of being compromised.
The letter underlined that private information of veterans, whistleblowers, and members of the public is still widely, insecurely, and improperly accessible in VIEWS even in June 2023, despite Bradsher’s and McDonough’s leadership. The Department of Veterans Affairs did not respond to inquiries from Fox News Digital for this article.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, also noted concerns with Bradsher’s potential appointment. In a letter to McDonough, he criticized Bradsher’s office, stating that VA certified fraud examiner and certified auditing professional had informed the office last year that personal identifiable information (PII), protected health information (PHI), and whistleblower information was insecurely accessible to the thousands of VA employees with access to VIEWS. The VIEWS system contains veterans’ names, social security numbers, dates of birth, and medical records of many veterans, accessible to thousands of VA employees, regardless of their need to know.
Grassley’s demands for disclosure come as Republicans have been urging the Biden administration for a public apology after accusing them falsely of cutting veteran programs’ funding. The GOP has been piling up pressure on the administration, accusing them of misleading military veterans, yet experts believe that a straightforward apology is unlikely, given the complexity of the situation.
Despite these accusations, Bradsher sailed through her confirmation hearing before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee earlier this year. However, she has denied any involvement in the breach and remains under intense scrutiny. The two watchdog groups emphasized that the committee has a duty to scrutinize senior leadership nominees like Bradsher and inform fellow Senators about relevant facts.