The VA Health Manpower Assistance Program:

Goals, Progress, and Shortcomings

HRD-79-8: Published: Mar 16, 1979. Publicly Released: Mar 26, 1979.

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The Veteran's Administration (VA) medical school assistance and health manpower training program was reviewed under its authorizing legislation to determine the extent to which this program was achieving the congressional intent of assisting the nation and VA in providing the best possible health care to veterans, and to analyze whether the program's allocated resources were reasonably improving the VA health care system.

VA grants generally extended or improved the training capacities of the institutions reviewed, and access to trained health personnel by affiliated VA hospitals was improved. VA has not always ensured that institutions seeking assistance developed sound projects and/or complied with program requirements. Several grants were approved for funding, although grant reviewers had recommended disapproval and grantees did not project increased enrollment, as required by VA regulations. Grantees have not been effectively encouraged to adopt veterans' preference policies in selecting students. No standard has been developed to ensure that grant funds were properly accounted for by individual grantees. No onsite compliance or financial audits were conducted, although records at grantee institutions showed numerous accounting discrepancies. VA officials were unaware of the discrepancies and blamed failure to conduct the audits on insufficient staff and funds. Based on GAO estimate, VA may fall short of meeting its program commitments by $32 million.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should not extend the authority of VA to provide funds for health manpower development under the authorizing legislation. Until the overall need for additional health manpower is more percisely determined, Congress should consider whether it wants to continue federal support to establish new schools and increase the capacity of existing ones. If federal support is continued, responsibility for program administration should be assigned to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) and the program managed with existing HEW health manpower development programs.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Medical Director to: (1) ensure that grant applications are not approved for funding until all grant conditions and requirements have been satisfied; (2) allocate sufficient staff and funds to effectively administer and manage the program; (3) establish a comprehensive evaluation system, including periodic onsite visits; (4) establish objectives and criteria by which to measure each program's effectiveness and the extent to which each affects the grantee and the affiliated VA hospital; and (5) develop a reporting system which encourages grantees to keep records on the number of eligible veterans involved in the programs, including this information in the agency's annual report to Congress.

    Agency Affected:

 

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