News out of the Veterans Administration continues to outrage lawmakers, citizens and military service members. The latest is the VA’s little know house buyout program which puts a hefty payment in the pockets of VA officials who must relocate. In one instance, the Veterans Administration paid $288K – which was nearly 160 percent of the individuals base salary – for moving a measly 140 miles. These outrageous payments come at a time when the VA is asking for additional funding from taxpayers and Congress.
Florida Rep. Jeff Miller, the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, is one of the lawmakers who is not happy about these “relocation costs” the Veterans Administration is doling out to its officials. When discussing this buyout program, Miller said, “The government shouldn’t be in the business of doling out hundreds of thousands in cash to extremely well-compensated executives just to move less than three hours down the road.”
VA Appraised Value Offer Program
This little know program, which was once called the Guaranteed Home Buy Out, is a home-purchasing program set up to offer an additional incentive for VA officials to relocate. Here’s how it works.
The Veterans Administration official who is moving starts by getting appraisals from two approved realtors. Next, the house must be listed for a minimum of 60 days without selling. When that happens, a contractor hired by the VA purchases it for the appraised value.
Where is the VA Transparency?
Now, we’re not sure what the business dealings are between the contractor and the VA. But in the case of the official mentioned above, the contractor purchased the house at what looks like above market value as they ended up selling it for a hefty loss of almost $100,000. Doesn’t sound like a profitable business to be in unless you are playing with house money.
The questions brought up by this program is who is actually paying to buy these homes – are the funds coming from the VA? And even so, why are these VA officials being paid so much for “relocation” costs. In the example above, the VA official’s home was purchased from her under the AVO program for less than $100,000 that she paid for it initially. Yet, she still walked away with another $180K for moving only 140 miles. That’s some expensive gas the VA is shelling out for don’t you think?
More words from Florida Rep. Jeff Miller, “For VA to pay such an outrageous amount in relocation expenses at a time when the department is continually telling Congress and taxpayers it needs more money raises questions about VA’s commitment to fiscal responsibility, transparency and true reform.”