The Department of Veterans Affairs is currently struggling and sometimes failing to make promised payments to student veterans receiving G.I. Bill benefits, while those student veterans struggle to remain in school while the VA battles with the crumbling technology causing the delays. This is an ongoing crisis.
It might help matters at least a little if the VA’s technology team’s focus wasn’t being pulled off such vital concerns in order to work on apparent vanity projects for Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago friends. The tremendous power hostile takeover kingpin Ike Perlmutter, defense lawyer Marc Sherman and Palm Beach doctor Bruce Moskowitz have been given over the VA was discovered this last summer, with the trio exercising an inexplicable Trump-given authority over policy, personnel, and budget decisions.
Now ProPublica has uncovered the extent to which one member of the trio sought to overrule the VA’s technology team in favor of his own projects, including pressuring the VA to adopt an iOS mobile app he developed with his son and inserting that son into high-level meetings about that app.
Moskowitz’s son Aaron joined a June 2017 conference call with executives from top medical systems and from Apple, including CEO Tim Cook. Moskowitz wanted the app discussed for five to seven minutes, according to the emails. After the call, Moskowitz named his son as one of the project’s “mid-level project managers.”
The refrain here is a familiar one: the wealthy Trump Mar-a-Lago friend mistrusted or was unimpressed with the entire collected expertise of the department’s government team, instead deeming his own technology insights to be superior and the department’s problems to be best solved by, as sheer coincidence, a product he himself was marketing. Moskowitz also pressured the VA into organizing a conference on medical device registries, the core topic of a foundation he founded from which his wife was drawing a salary, despite the government already having an effective such system in place.
You can take all this to be an attempt at self-dealing or an earnest effort by a single wealthy doctor suddenly given command control over the Department of Veterans Affairs to reform the agency in accordance with what he himself diagnosed to be key issues facing veterans—albeit one with no apparent knowledge of what the department was actually doing, or had already solved, or had itself identified as most critical. It doesn’t matter which; in either event, the department was blowing time, budget and other resources to probe the pet projects of three Donald Trump golfing buddies suddenly made czars of whatever specific projects tickled their fancy. That is, to put it mildly, not how efficient government is supposed to work.