State audit shows big problems at Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs

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OKLAHOMA CITY - "A culture of fear and intimidation exists at ODVA."

That's a direct line from a state audit released Wednesday on the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs. The 75-page document outlines major problems in the agency from communication issues to lackluster medical care for veterans. The ODVA is a state-run department that provides medical and rehabilitative services for veterans and their families.

This is the third audit in five years for the ODVA. State Auditor Gary Jones said in a statement released Wednesday with the audit that this one is "probably the most troubling."

The audit was requested by the Office of the Attorney General and it outlines management concerns saying "employees across the state actively fear for their jobs and report experiencing dictatorial and aggressive leadership from the central office. Morale is reportedly at an all-time low."

"The number of calls coming from ODVA employees because of this audit is unlike anything we've experienced before. Unfortunately, ODVA personnel are working in a fog of mistrust resulting from poor communication by the agency's executive director and the apparent constant threat of termination," said Jones.

The audit also documents shortfalls in medical care for Oklahoma veterans saying "it is clear the historical level of in-house care at the centers is declining."

The audit also makes suggestions to fix the problems. "Management should establish a system of clear communication that relays information from the bottom of the organization to the top and vice versa."

It also makes recommendations for better financial planning and doing cost-benefit analysis before certain medical services are outsourced for cost concerns.

News 4 contacted ODVA who did not answer our calls, but they did release the following statement:

"We are presently reviewing the State Auditor's report. Where matters of significance have been raised, we look forward to taking the appropriate corrective action," said Shane Faulkner of the ODVA.

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