Veterans Affairs Issues

OCG-93-21TR: Published: Dec 1, 1992. Publicly Released: Dec 1, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO summarized federal policy and management issues relating to veterans affairs.

GAO noted that: (1) the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) delivers a wide array of medical disability compensation, pension, housing, insurance, education, and burial services in more than 1,000 facilities at a cost of $34 billion annually; (2) to contain the rising federal deficit, VA will have to operate its programs and activities with constrained resources; (3) VA has numerous opportunities to operate more cost-effectively while preserving or enhancing the quality of services provided to veterans; (4) national health reform could be the most significant challenge facing VA since it could reduce demand for inpatient care by almost 50 percent; and (5) other challenges facing VA include how best to serve an aging veteran population, fully incorporate evolving medical treatment patterns, and innovate claims-processing technologies.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This issue is being monitored through ongoing work relating to health reform.

    Matter: Congress and VA may wish to consider limiting construction of additional acute care capacity until the reformed health care system takes shape. This would: (1) free up funds for deficit reduction without affecting current VA health care services; and (2) prevent construction of facilities that could quickly lead to excess capacity. VA currently spends about $500 million a year on construction and renovation of health facilities.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Followup is being conducted through GAO ongoing health reform work.

    Recommendation: Congress and VA may wish to consider limiting construction of additional acute care capacity until the reformed health care system takes shape. This would: (1) free up funds for deficit reduction without affecting current VA health care services; and (2) prevent construction of facilities that could quickly lead to excess capacity. VA currently spends about $500 million a year on construction and renovation of health facilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The new Chief Financial Officer is addressing these issues. Recommendation is too vague to warrant followup.

    Recommendation: The new VA Chief Financial Officer should focus special attention on these issues as VA improves its financial management activities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Followup on implementation of National Performance Review recommendations will address this issue.

    Recommendation: Top VA management needs to continue the previous Secretary's initiative to develop VA strategic management, integrate the plans of the three components into that process, and periodically assess how each phase of the process can be enhanced.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: GAO is assessing VA's efforts to improve financial management through ongoing AIMD and Health Education and Human Service reviews.

    Recommendation: To complete implementation, VA should continue efforts to strengthen financial management through preparation of audited financial statements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: VA has contracted for a major modernization of its benefits systems. The Accounting and Information Management Division is monitoring implementation through ongoing work.

    Recommendation: To complete implementation, VA should integrate its information systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The National Performance Review made a comprehensive assessment of VA and its components and developed 16 specific recommendations. GAO is following up on these recommendations.

    Recommendation: To complete implementation, VA should integrate the planning of its three largely autonomous components--the Veterans Health Administration, Veterans Benefit Administration, and the National Cemetery System--into the Department's overall strategic management.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

  7. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The National Performance Review recommended a number of changes in VA. GAO is monitoring implementation of the NPR recommendations.

    Recommendation: VA should complete the strategic management process it started under the previous administration.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

 

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