A former top human resources executive at the Department of Veterans Affairs improperly steered a contract to benefit two of his friends, the agency’s inspector general found in a recent report.
Peter Shelby, who briefly served as VA’s assistant secretary for human resources and administration, violated ethics laws and abused his position to award a $5 million contract to two friends.
The contract “resulted entirely in waste,” James Mitchell, VA’s acting assistant inspector general, said.
The contract was for leadership development and training for VA employees and applicant assessment tools. Shelby was friendly with the owner of the service-disabled veteran-owned small business that received the $5 million contract. He was also friends with the vice president of Blanchard, one of the subcontractors on the project, who had endorsed Shelby for the assistant secretary position back in 2017.
According to the IG, Shelby directed his staff to pursue a contract with the small business under a specific VA sole-source authority, which allows the department, under limited circumstances, to avoid the usual competitive bidding procedures. But in this case, those authorities were misused to benefit Shelby and the preferred small business, the IG said.