Veterans Affairs Spent $20 Million On High-End, Luxury Artwork

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It’s Throwback Thursday!

When news broke the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department spent almost $20 million on artwork, while veterans were waiting months, some dying, before they could get doctor appointments, it struck a nerve.

The multi-story morse code art installation on the side of one VA hospital parking garage in Palo Alto, California, couldn’t be seen by the blind vets the center served, but news of the expenditure had some seeing red.

A 2016 report by, and a COX Media Group investigation, broke open the story of this federal agency’s penchant for high-end art. Good Morning America and ABC World News Tonight aired segments.

The $3.1 million the VA spent in 2014 alone, and the $19.7 million (plus $2 million in special projects) spent over 11 years on art made quite the impression. ABC News highlighted the report and featured a $482,960 VA “rock sculpture,” part of a $1.3 million courtyard project.

Some launched a defense of the VA’s art spending, but the VA responded with an in-house policy reform where future pricey art purchases would require prior approval.

Art remains a component of veteran therapy programs and an annual National Veterans Creative Art Festival featured nearly 3,600 veterans from 130 VA medical facilities in 2019.  But where the art portfolio of this $237.5 billion agency (FY20) stands (or hangs) today is anybody’s guess.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at

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