When I attend a hearing he's in, I generally blog here at Trina's site. (Prior to Scott Brown, my Senate coverage here largely focused on Senator Roland Burris' work on the Veterans Affairs Committee. I miss him at the hearings and, if you paid attention, you do as well. That's not meant as insult to Brown, it's just noting that Burris contributed a great deal to the hearings.)
So here's the key moment of his exchange today as he questioned DoD's Deputy Secretary William Lynn.
Senator Scott Brown: Last December the GAO found that one of your pilot sites was experiencing severe staffing shortages. You spent an average of 144 days just to complete one exam and I know the desired timeline is 45 days. What's going on with that particular site? Are things getting better? Either one [of the witnesses] I guess.
Deputy Secretary William Lynn: Why don't I-I start. As -- I mean you-you-you-you've got the numbers right. I'm not sure which you're talking about but the-the -- there are challenges in making this transition. Overall, where we stand right now is that the old system, the average, the to -- the average, not the evaluation, but to get through the system was about 540 days. The average to get through the new system right now stands just under 400. We have a goal of getting it under 300. Uh. We -- To get to that point, we have to do is deal with exactly the choke points that you're talking about. And our plan is to surge resources. In this case, medical resources to these choke points to get that-that backlog removed so that we hit the, uh, targeted number of days for each stage in the process. 45, as you said, for the medical evaluation.
Senator Scott Brown: So, is it streamlining still to be at 400 days? 300 days? That's considered streamlining still? I mean is that a realistic number?
Deputy Secretary William Lynn: Certainly relative to 540. It-it-it --
Senator Scott Brown: But when you're the service member trying to get on with your life, I mean, it's an eternity.
Lynn allowed "Fair enough" and began stammering more than usual and the VA Deputy Secretary W. Scott Gould jumped in to try and rescue the situation. He only embarrassed himself trying to present delays as though they were the veteran's choice, as if the veteran sat around thinking, "I should go," but didn't -- out of fear, lethargy, what have you. It was an embarrassment.
And Brown's question was never answered. It is unacceptable.
So what's going to be done?
I think we'll get an idea of what the Committee intends to do next Wednesday when they explore the same topic again but this time from the perspective of veterans.
And here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"