The VBA Drops the Ball Once Again

Earlier this month, VA Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey released an article about the effectiveness of the Department of Veterans Affairs new pilot programs to reduce benefit claim waiting times and increase accuracy rates.  Their new initiative is this:

“Start processing the oldest claims first.”

wtfSince the majority of claims are still processed through paper records, one would think that the  oldest claims would have always been processed first, since they, ostensibly, were filed before newer claims.

In fact, one of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s flagship programs, the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) was developed in 2010 and was scheduled for implementation in 2012.  Unfortunately, despite wide-scale implementation of this software, this system has yet to fully complete even the simplest of disability claims end to end.  Yet taxpayers are shelling out billions for rushed, poorly designed and ineffective schemes.  (More details to come in a soon-to-be-released publication.)

What Hickey’s article inadvertently says is that they have prioritized their new programs in order to drive down the processing times.  Well, it works.  Newer programs like the Integrated Disability Evaluation System, a joint VA-DOD program, have been producing substantially lower waiting times and increased accuracy rates.  But it also means that the VA has essentially been cooking the books.

Hickey gets to take her numbers to Congress, commenting on the efficacy of her initiatives while carefully omitting the fact that not only have they changed how they calculate accuracy rates (see my previous post) but that they’re also prioritizing the new programs.

The truth is that old claims are old, and inaccurate, because they keep getting shuffled to the bottom in order to justify newer initiatives.  These initiatives ultimately end up folding under pressure more than Tony Romo.

Comments (12)

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  1. Penn says:

    Sounds like the VA just continues to dig itself a bigger and bigger hole. They need to focus on fixing their “old ” problems and disability claims before over-expanding and under-providing.

  2. Patel says:

    Why the picture of Jackie Chan? I am a big fan of his, it is not a flattering picture of him.

  3. Desai says:

    I think it is fair to say that the VA administration is a hot mess, and Allison too is a hot mess!

  4. Kumar says:

    I think it is fair to say that the VA is trying to solve its problems with better information technology tools, however, it seems that they lack the human capital to effectively manage the system via these new toys.

  5. Sandeep says:

    I wonder how many old claims have already stockpiled? Surely, if the public knew this, something could be done….right?

  6. Pam says:

    Why the picture of Jackie Chan? Because even he deserves to know what’s going on here with the VA.

  7. Andrew says:

    Never surprised to read about poor decisions associated with the VA. Sounds like inefficiency and lack of sensible priorities is becoming the norm.

  8. H. James Prince says:

    The Jackie Chan picture is known as a “meme”, an image macro on the Internet used to express emotion – as in the old phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”. This particular image, one of Jackie Chan expressing ultimate confusion, is often used to reply to a post or news item that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. In this instance, it expresses shock and disbelief at the sheer incomprehensibility of the VA’s failure.

  9. H. James Prince says:

    Also, I bid you welcome to the Internet, as you clearly must be new here.

  10. Tom says:

    I actually found the picture of Jackie Chan quite suitable and appropriate.

  11. B. Popplewell says:

    I wonder, is it best to keep incrementally patching a broken system or incurring the enormous cost of starting from scratch?

  12. I. Toller says:

    Solution = Hire Tony Romo to head the VA, some improvement is better than none :p

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