VA Denver Regional Office Needs an Improved Claims Processing Monitoring System To Speed Up Service to Veterans

HRD-82-45: Published: Mar 15, 1982. Publicly Released: Mar 25, 1982.

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GAO was requested to review the operations of the Veterans Administration's (VA) Denver Regional Office. The objectives of the review were to: (1) identify where delays were occurring and what improvements were needed to speed up the processing of current VA Denver Regional Office compensation, pension, and education claims; and (2) disclose the extent of labor-management problems experienced in the Denver Regional Office.

Many of the compensation, pension, and education benefits claims included in GAO samples were not processed in a timely manner by the Denver Regional Office. Because the Denver Regional Office workload measurement systems do not provide sufficient detailed information needed to identify the specific points where problems occur, its management is frequently unable to determine the reasons for the delays and initiate appropriate corrective actions. In addition, schools were frequently late in submitting the enrollment certifications needed to process education claims. Poor relations between labor and management officials in the Denver Regional Office have resulted in a disproportionate volume of charges of unfair labor practices (ULP). During the year ended April 1981, 95 ULP's were filed by the local union. This was the largest number filed in any of the VA stations and accounted for 16 percent of all those filed VA-wide during the period. According to the Denver Regional Office management, union officials request excessive time for union business and file many ULP's which are frivolous and a form of harassment. The local union president said that management does not give adequate recognition to the union as a bargaining agent for the employees and that increased involvement of union officials in decisions affecting working conditions and changes in labor practices would reduce union activity. GAO believes these disagreements between union and management officials could be reduced if contract provisions are made more specific.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should instruct the Denver Regional Office to develop and implement an improved claims processing monitoring system which will provide the information needed to determine where and why claims are delayed.

    Agency Affected: Veterans Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should instruct the Denver Regional Office to take corrective actions to reduce claims processing timeframes based on the information provided by the improved system.

    Agency Affected: Veterans Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: VA believes that the Denver Office's timeframe for submitting enrollment certificates is a local requirement which should not be expanded to a VA-wide requirement.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should instruct the Denver Regional Office to inform schools of the specific timeframe within which enrollment certifications should be submitted and of excessive or persistent delays.

    Agency Affected: Veterans Administration

 

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