Top VA Human Resources Official Quits Over Lavish Conference Spending

Filed under: Management,Management Ethics,News,Politics |

John Sepúlveda, assistant secretary for human resources and administration Veterans Affairs Department, resigned Sunday, 30 September 2012, after an investigation found that the VA overspent on two week long conferences in Orlando, Fla.

John Sepúlveda was head of HR at the VA.

John Sepúlveda was head of HR at the VA.

The investigation found Sepúlveda had “abdicated his responsibilities” by not properly overseeing the conferences.

Published reports said Sepúlveda had allegedly lied to investigators about certain aspects of the conventions, an allegation that he has publicly disputed.

“Misuse of taxpayer dollars is completely unacceptable,” the VA on in a statement released 1 October 2012. “The actions cited in the report represent serious lapses in oversight, judgment, and stewardship.”

Investigators found that the two training conferences, which included classes for about 1,800 VA human resources employees, fulfilled “valid training needs.”

Probe of VA Spending

However, the investigation found that poor supervision by senior VA officials resulted in “numerous examples of excessive costs and unnecessary and supported expenditures. In fact, we questioned about $762,000 as unauthorized, unnecessary and/or wasteful expenses.”

The two conferences cost $6.1 million, or about $3,889 per attendee.

Eric Shinseki, secretary of Veterans Affairs, is appointing senior officials to review the evidence and recommend appropriate action, according to the Washington Post.

“Employees who have misused taxpayer dollars or violated VA standards of conduct will be held accountable,” the VA statement said.

Sepulveda, 58, was deputy director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in 1998 under President Clinton.

Before joining OPM, Sepúlveda managed a $5 billion federally insured hospital mortgage portfolio at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He worked at the White House in the Office of Presidential Personnel from 1996-1997.

Before coming to Washington, D.C., in 1993, he held various local and state positions in Connecticut. Sepúlveda also taught political science at Hunter College and Yale University.

Sepúlveda, a New York City native, earned two master’s degrees from Yale and his B.A. degree from Hunter College.

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