For any organization that relies on records and document retention as a key element in conducting their business, it would seem that having an optimized system would be a necessity. However, that is not always the case. The Department of Veteran Affairs has had more than a few issues when it comes to record organization, but a recent letter and information from current employees show how bad it has become.

Obtained by the Daily News, the letter was drafted by Carolyn Lerner of the U.S. Office for Special Counsel to President Barack Obama and is compiled from interviews with four VA employees from offices in the Buffalo and Batavia, NY, locations. Lerner wrote about issues with document organization, managers ignoring protocols and misleading patients and the lack of effort put in to fix it.

Specifically, there were stories about boxes of medical files being stored randomly. This led to eight years of clutter – 160 boxes, 40 files in each – that had no order. When certain files were requested, employees would report that the document was “unavailable” when it merely could not be located.

There was another incident where several boxes and documents were contaminated with mold and were just repacked and stored anyway.

Congressman Chris Collins, whose district includes the Buffalo and Batavia facilities, released a harshly worded statement about the letter:

“I continue to be outraged by the VA’s repeated problems,” he said. “The VA is supposed to provide service and benefits that all of our veterans have earned by protecting our freedom. And instead what we have, in too many cases, is a bunch of bureaucrats in both Washington and in the local facilities who seem content to collect a paycheck and not service the public.”

Any company that is required to handle physical documents should partner with a document storage and management company to ensure all best practices and legal requirements are handled properly.