National Guard Addresses McCaskill Concerns with Mental Health Contracts

Senator Applauds Guard Progress on Oversight, Service Improvements for Psychological Health Support Services

Contact: Sarah Feldman (print) or Anamarie Rebori (broadcast) – 202-228-6263

National Guard Addresses McCaskill Concerns with Mental Health Contracts

Senator applauds Guard progress on oversight, service improvements for psychological health support services

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is praising the National Guard’s efforts to improve mental health services for Guard members and improve management and oversight of its psychological health contracts—successfully addressing concerns she raised last year over inadequate services and poor accountability.

McCaskill sent a letter to General Frank Grass, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, after receiving an update that the Guard is successfully addressing her concerns that management and oversight of contracts may have resulted in inadequate mental health care services, and the failure to properly transfer patient files.

“I was pleased to learn that the National Guard is now addressing many of the deficiencies in contract management and oversight by converting [Directors of Psychological Health] contracted positions to federal positions,” McCaskill, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight and former Missouri State Auditor, wrote in the letter. “The National Guard’s psychological health program has informed the Subcommittee that, after a review of the program, they have found that converting contract positions to federal positions would provide advantages over the current contracted structure, as well as provide projected cost savings of between $6 million and $7 million per year across the program… It is encouraging that the National Guard is performing cost benefit analyses of their contracted programs and finding savings for taxpayers while also increasing the services they will be able to provide to members of the National Guard.”

Full text of today’s letter is available HERE and below:

Dear General Grass:

I am writing in regards to my June 19, 2013, request regarding contracts for the coordination of mental health services at Air National Guard Wings and National Guard bases across the country.  I thank you for your July 31, 2013, response and the subsequent briefings your office provided to my staff.

As you are aware, in March 2013, the National Guard awarded a $200 million firm-fixed-price contract for psychological health support services at National Guard bases, including Air National Guard Wings, to Goldbelt Glacier Healthcare Services, LLC, a subsidiary of Goldbelt Inc., an Alaska Native Corporation, and National Sourcing Inc.   The Subcommittee received information showing that the National Guard’s management and oversight of the contract may have resulted in inadequate mental health care services for members of the National Guard.  According to this information, it appeared that the National Guard failed to ensure proper transfer of patient files from a previous contractor which may have left ongoing cases vulnerable.  It also appeared that the responsibilities of the Directors of Psychological Health positions had been reduced, which may have affected the level of service and care that National Guard members received. 

I was pleased to learn that the National Guard is now addressing many of the deficiencies in contract management and oversight by converting these contracted positions to federal positions.  The National Guard’s psychological health program has informed the Subcommittee that, after a review of the program, they have found that converting contract positions to federal positions would provide advantages over the current contracted structure, as well as provide projected cost savings of between $6 million and $7 million per year across the program.   The National Guard has also found that converting the contracted workforce to a federal workforce will, “provide increased capability versus contracted providers,” as well as, “enhance provider stability and longevity.”  It is encouraging that the National Guard is performing cost benefit analyses of their contracted programs and finding savings for taxpayers while also increasing the services they will be able to provide to members of the National Guard.

As the National Guard continues to expand the psychological health program, I ask that you continue to keep my staff informed of your progress.

Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/accountability to learn more about McCaskill's fight to strengthen accountability.