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VA’s top HR exec resigns as IG prepares release of report

Oct. 1, 2012 - 11:45AM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
The Veterans Affairs Department's top human resources official resigned Sunday, a day before the release of an inspector general report that is expected to be highly critical of VA's lavish spending on HR conferences. (Veterans Administration)

The Veterans Affairs Department’s top human resources official resigned Sunday, a day before the release of an inspector general report that is expected to be highly critical of VA’s lavish spending on HR conferences.

VA confirmed John Sepulveda stepped down as chief human capital officer Sept. 30. Federal News Radio first reported Sepulveda’s resignation Monday.

VA’s Office of Inspector General began investigating allegations of illegal gifts and excessive spending at two 2011 HR training conferences in Orlando, Fla. In August, OIG investigators briefed lawmakers on their preliminary findings. Congressional sources told Federal Times that investigators identified roughly $200,000 in questionable spending, including $52,000 for a 15-minute video parodying the war movie “Patton” that was shown only twice.

Congressional sources also told Federal Times the OIG was investigating allegations that VA employees who organized the conferences illegally accepted gifts from hotels they were scouting. Those alleged gifts may have included free rides in helicopters and a stretch limo, lodging, food, alcohol, concert tickets, spa treatments, and gift baskets.

The OIG is planning to release its final report at 2 p.m. Monday.

In a phone interview with Federal Times, Sepulveda confirmed that he stepped down because of the IG report.

“I resigned because I did not want to be a distraction for the administration, [VA] Secretary [Eric] Shinseki and the VA, especially as they continue to work each day to address the urgent needs of our nation’s veterans,” Sepulveda said. “I had the distinct honor of serving the president and the secretary, and as a result, I got a chance to play a role in their efforts to support our veterans, and I will forever be grateful for that opportunity.”

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