Oversight

• SENATE VETERANS’ AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: (04/22/08) — Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) wrote a letter to Veterans Health Administration Undersecretary Michael Kussman calling for the resignation of Ira Katz, the department’s mental health officer.

Recent reports have pointed to Katz’s involvement in efforts to hide the number of veterans who try to commit suicide.

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“Dr. Katz’s personal conduct and professional judgment have been called into question by his response to the mental health needs of veterans, and in particular to veteran suicides,” Akaka wrote.

“I believe veterans, and the Department of Veterans, would be best served by his immediate resignation.”

• SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION, LABOR AND PENSIONS COMMITTEE: (04/22/08) — Chairman Edward Kennedy (D- Mass.) and Employment and Workplace Safety subcommittee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote a letter to Acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro asking the Government Accountability Office to review efforts at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure that employers are accurately keeping track of worker injuries and illnesses.

“Because OSHA uses the information on injuries and illnesses to target employer worksites with high injury and illness rates for inspection, there is a clear incentive for employers to underreport such injuries and illnesses,” Kennedy and Murray wrote.

“We are concerned that, in recent years, the incidence of underreporting has become more widespread and that OSHA’s efforts to ensure that employers are recording injuries and illnesses as required have declined.”

• HOUSE COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM: (04/21/08) — Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) wrote a letter to Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David Chu regarding military personnel waivers issued to U.S. service members.

Chu previously sent information on this issue to the committee that, according to the letter, showed “a rapid rise in 2007 in the number of waivers the Army and Marine Corps granted to recruits convicted of serious felonies, such as aggravated assault and burglary.”

Waxman now wants more detailed information related to the increased number of personnel waivers as “concerns have been raised that the significant increase in the recruitment of persons with criminal records is a result of the strain put on the military by the Iraq war and may be undermining military readiness.”