U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Press Release

Baldwin, Blumenthal Call for VA Inspector General Investigation into Security of Veterans’ Personal Information

“While this particular incident occurred in Wisconsin, we believe the issue is one of national importance and request that you conduct a system-wide review of the Department’s practice,” the Senators wrote.

By - Nov 6th, 2015 09:45 am

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) and the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, and Senator Richard Blumenthal, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, have called for a formal investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) into whether adequate safeguards are in place within the VA to protect veterans’ personal information.  

This request was prompted by an April 2015 incident in which a State employee at the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) sent veterans’ personally identifiable information (PII) to an unintended and unauthorized recipient over the Department of Veterans Affairs’ email system. Shortly thereafter, Senator Baldwin’s office reached out to the VA OIG to explore whether there was cause for them to review the incident in Wisconsin. At that time, the VA OIG stated there was no nexus for them to review an incident that appeared to wholly involve a state entity.

However, in their letter, Senators Baldwin and Blumenthal argue there is indeed a federal nexus given that the WDVA—when transmitting veterans’ information—utilizes VA systems, including software and email servers, which include tools to protect veterans’ PII from unintended disclosure. Despite these safeguards the accidental disclosure in Wisconsin still occurred.

“While this particular incident occurred in Wisconsin, we believe the issue is one of national importance and request that you conduct a system-wide review of the Department’s practice,” the Senators wrote.

Senators Baldwin and Blumenthal also sent a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald requesting information from the Secretary on the process by which VA shares information with non-Agency personnel for purposes of assisting veterans with their claims for service-connection of disabilities. In that letter the Senators request information on how PII is safeguarded on the VA’s e-mail system from inappropriate or accidental disclosure from the VA to a third-party, such as a state department of veterans affairs, or from the third-party to another individual.

Mentioned in This Press Release

Recent Press Releases by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin

Senators Baldwin, Collins Introduce Bill to Strengthen TRIO Programs That Assist First-Generation, Low-Income Students Seeking a College Education

Bipartisan legislation would reauthorize programs that assist hundreds of thousands of students to achieve their dream of a college education

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Demands President Trump Release Details on Secret Agriculture Deal with Mexico

“Our Wisconsin dairy farmers and cheesemakers deserve honesty and the secrecy surrounding your claims should end.”

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Announces More Than $1 Million for Wisconsin Shipyard

Baldwin Secures Federal Grant to Support Fincantieri Marinette Marine

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us