A little more than one month after a report by Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General accused epidemiologist and longtime Gulf War Syndrome researcher Robert Haley and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center of wasting millions and failing to live up to the terms of a five-year, $75-million federal grant, the VA has killed the deal. Perhaps this wasn't unexpected; after all, the report concluded that "it appears that UTSWMC has given VA has no option other than to terminate the contract for default." Reports the Associated Press:
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel Akaka, a Democrat from Hawaii, has been pushing to the end the sole-source contract with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Money for the contract was added to a 2005 spending bill by Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas when the GOP had the majority in Congress.
Unfair Park has left a message for Haley, who has been researching Gulf War Syndrome for more than a decade.
Update at 12:26 p.m.: UT Southwestern has sent along the following statement, from John Walls, assistant vice president for public affairs, concerning the cancellation of the contract:
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"We regret the VA's unilateral decision to not renew the contract supporting vital research focused on veterans suffering from Gulf War syndrome being carried out by UT Southwestern investigators and their collaborators elsewhere.
We strongly disagree with the VA's characterization of the facts related to our Gulf War research contract. We were surprised to learn of their action, especially since we have been working diligently and in good faith with the VA to resolve all areas of disagreement.
We remain committed to performing research that improves the condition of those who have served our country."