So Hard to Spend—and Track:

The Government Accountability Office reported recently that Veterans Affairs had not allocated all $100 million earmarked in Fiscal 2005 for mental health initiatives for returning Southwest Asia troops, and VA appeared to be headed toward the same problem with its 2006 allocation of $200 million. GAO says the unspent portion for 2005 was $12 million, while the 2006 amount is much higher, at $42 million. VA officials told GAO they lacked enough time—time to recruit new staff and, in particular, to hire specialized staff, such as psychiatrists. GAO also found fault with inadequate tracking efforts by VA headquarters to monitor the use of the funds in the field. Apparently, some VA officials told the Congressional watchdog agency that they had used the targeted funds to pay for other mental health-type programs, including a substance abuse residential rehabilitation program.