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    Subject Term: "Veterans employment programs"

    8 publications with a total of 19 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Brown Barnes, Cindy S
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should publicly report DOD's performance regarding participation and career readiness attainment for all TAP-eligible servicemembers and members of the National Guard and Reserve rather than exclude those for whom data are missing or clarify the extent of missing data. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should monitor and report on the extent to which servicemembers participate in TAP within prescribed timeframes. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should monitor and report on the extent to which servicemembers who elect to receive additional 2-day classes are able to receive the training. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should monitor and report on the extent to which servicemembers attend TAP in a classroom setting unless allowed by regulation to participate online. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should enable unit commanders and their higher-level commanders to access DOD reports on timeliness, 2-day classes, and the use of online TAP--after DOD begins monitoring and reporting this information--to help ensure the specific units they oversee are compliant with all TAP requirements. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should seek ways to minimize the subjectivity involved in making career readiness determinations, particularly where judgments are involved, such as the quality of the individual transition plan and the resume. This could include developing guidance or training that provides quality standards for assessing career readiness materials. (Recommendation 6)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the management of DOD's credentialing program and better determine whether the program is achieving its desired results, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to develop and implement program performance measures that include key attributes, such as a baseline and goals, that can be used to assess performance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD did not concur with our recommendation to develop and implement performance measures for its credentialing program. As of August 23, 2017, the department still has yet to develop performance measures for the program.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase accountability for program performance, the Secretary of VA should establish measures to report on program outcomes for Post-9/11 GI Bill OJT and apprenticeship programs, including considering relevant data sources and seeking legislative authority to gain access to data, if necessary.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) agrees that program performance metrics should be developed to report on program outcomes. In March 2016, VBA officials said that VBA's Education Service is working with DoD, ED, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to determine the feasibility of collecting and publishing post-graduation data to include data for OJT and apprenticeship programs. The target completion date was June 1, 2016.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To inform decisions on any potential future iterations of the veterans' employment workshop, the Secretary of Labor should assess and report to Congress the extent to which further delivery of employment workshops to veterans and their spouses could fill a niche not fully served by existing federal programs. Such an assessment could involve collaboration with VA and other stakeholder organizations.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, DOL repeated its assertion that the employment needs of veterans and spouses are best met through the services offered by their local American Job Centers. Additionally, DOL's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) has published its employment workshop TAP curriculum in eBook form, making it accessible to all veterans and spouses. VETS planned to report to Congress in 2017 on whether a need exists to provide an employment workshop to veterans and spouses. DOL has not provided an update to GAO on that assessment. Further, VETS is conducting a pilot to identify additional options to connect veterans and spouses to employment services available at American Job Centers, and plans to report its initial findings to Congress in 2018.
    Director: Bertoni, Daniel
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) decisions are well supported and TDIU benefits are provided only to veterans whose service-connected disabilities prevent them from obtaining or retaining substantially gainful employment, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits to update the TDIU guidance to clarify how rating specialists should determine unemployability when making TDIU benefit decisions. This updated guidance could clarify whether factors such as enrollment in school, education level, and prior work history should be used and if so, how to consider them; and whether or not to assign more weight to certain factors than others. Updating the guidance would also give VBA the opportunity to re-examine the applicability, if at all, of other factors it has identified as extraneous.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA reported in March 2017 that an internal workgroup is in the final stage of collecting and analyzing the data to determine if age should be a factor in deciding Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU), and whether or not to use positive vocational assessments to disallow TDIU claims. VA reported that the workgroup is also in the process of completing an Inter-Rater Variability Assessment (IRVA) to examine the disparity in rating decisions involving entitlement to TDIU and service connection. After completion of the internal study on TDIU and the IRVA, targeted for September 30, 2017, the workgroup will submit its preliminary analysis and recommendations to VBA leadership for a decision on the next courses of action for future policy decisions and will then update any related guidance, as appropriate.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that TDIU decisions are well supported and TDIU benefits are provided only to veterans whose service-connected disabilities prevent them from obtaining or retaining substantially gainful employment, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits to verify the self-reported income provided by veterans (a) applying for TDIU benefits and (b) undergoing the annual eligibility review process by comparing such information against IRS earnings data, which VBA currently has access to for this purpose. VA could also explore options to obtain more timely earnings data from other sources to ensure that claimants are working within allowable eligibility limits

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: VA is developing an upfront verification process by expanding the data sharing agreement with Social Security Administration (SSA), which enables VA to receive federal tax information via an encrypted electronic transmission through a secure portal. Once a Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) claim is received, VA will request the reported income through the secured SSA portal and receive a response within 10-16 days. VA reported that process will serve as a more efficient way to receive income data in a timely manner and maintain the integrity of the TDIU benefit while reducing improper payments. The development and implementation of the upfront verification process for TDIU claimants is anticipated to be completed by July 21, 2017. Meanwhile, VA has reinstituted the data match agreement with SSA through December 2017, which collects earned income (employment wages). The agreement allows VBA to compare reported income earnings of TDIU beneficiaries to earnings actually received. In addition, VA completed the upfront income verification manual guidance and is planning to pilot the guidance prior to implementation. VA also has drafted new manual guidance for the annual eligibility review process and the documents are currently under review. As of March 2017, VA reported delays and stated it planned to fully implement the annual eligibility review process by June 30, 2017.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that TDIU decisions are well supported and TDIU benefits are provided only to veterans whose service-connected disabilities prevent them from obtaining or retaining substantially gainful employment, in light of VA's agreement with the recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits to develop a plan to study the complex TDIU policy questions on (1) whether age should be considered when deciding if veterans are unemployable and (2) whether it is possible to disallow TDIU benefits for veterans whose vocational assessment indicated they would be employable after rehabilitation.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, a VA workgroup is in the final stages of collecting and analyzing the data to determine if age should be a factor in deciding TDIU, and whether or not the agency will use positive vocational assessments to disallow TDIU claims. Additionally, the workgroup is in the process of completing an Inter-Rather Variability Study (IRVA) to examine the disparity in rating decisions involving entitlement to TDIU and service connection. After completion of the internal study on TDIU and the IRVA, targeted for September 30, 2017, he workgroup will submit its preliminary analysis and recommendations and VA will then decide on the next courses of action for future policy decisions. Due to VA's earlier conclusions, in April 2015, that no immediate changes to its current guidance were necessary, and in the spirit of this recommendation, the status will remain open until the completion of these ongoing efforts.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure servicemember participation in and completion of TAP, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness to require that all services provide unit commanders and their leaders information on TAP participation levels of servicemembers under their command, similar to that provided by the Army and Air Force. Such information could be used to help hold leaders accountable for ensuring TAP participation and completion.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD disagreed with this recommendation and, as of January 2016, has not taken action to address it. In its written comments published in GAO's 2014 report, DOD questioned GAO's concern that not having a mechanism to ensure a servicemember's completion of TAP by commander would result in commanders not supporting the release of servicemembers to attend TAP. DOD noted that GAO's concern is based on observations that preceded full implementation of the capstone event. In October 2013, DOD launched the capstone as a mandatory process by which commanders verify TAP participation and positively affirm that servicemembers have or have not met career readiness standards. In addition, DOD said that capstone event implementation was accompanied by a communications campaign to inform both commanders and the services. Finally, DOD said that capstone event completion is monitored departmentwide to ensure compliance. However, GAO believes that such monitoring does not provide routine information to commanders and their leaders and not all TAP locations will be monitored routinely. GAO's report noted that DOD reported that ensuring servicemember participation in capstone events was a challenge for most of the services possibly due, in part, to lack of commanders' support. Commander support for the program has been a long-standing challenge for the program. Therefore, we continue to believe that an accountability mechanism is needed for TAP that mirrors the level at which responsibility has been assigned. Since commanders are responsible for ensuring that eligible servicemembers have full access to and successfully complete required TAP components, providing them and their leaders information on TAP participation levels of servicemembers under their command could promote accountability and oversight. Servicemember participation in TAP is generally required by law and DOD policy, and also relates to a Cross-Agency Priority Goal, reinforcing the need for such a mechanism. For GAO to close this recommendation, DOD should require all services to provide unit commanders and their leaders information on TAP participation levels of servicemembers under their command.
    Recommendation: To provide information on the extent to which the revamped TAP is effective, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness to work with the partner agencies to develop a written strategy for determining which components and tracks to evaluate and the most appropriate evaluation methods. This strategy should include a plan to use the results of evaluations to modify or redesign the program, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has partially addressed GAO's recommendation on evaluating the effectiveness of the revamped TAP, information that is currently limited. DOD's May 2014 presentation to OMB on the status of TAP implementation and evaluation efforts lists specific TAP components and tracks in which VA, DOL, and SBA planned to assess TAP effectiveness or post-transition outcomes. Although the presentation to OMB indicated that VA planned a higher level evaluation, as of December 2015, VA officials said they are focusing on lower level evaluations, such as gauging participant reactions to training and monitoring. As of March 2016, DOL has been conducting a quasi-experimental evaluation of the Employment Workshop, which it expects to complete in 2017. Further, SBA officials said they are surveying Entrepreneurial track participants who agreed to a post-TAP, follow-up survey. However, DOD and the agencies have not fully demonstrated a strategic approach to planning higher level evaluations. Specifically, DOD and its partner agencies have not provided a rationale for why they chose to evaluate certain aspects of TAP and not others. A written rationale, along with how the agencies plan to use the results of the evaluations, is required for GAO to consider this recommendation closed.
    Director: Sherrill, Andrew
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance collaboration among the various entities involved in delivering employment services to military spouses and to better monitor the effectiveness of these services, the Secretary of Defense should consider incorporating key practices to sustain and enhance collaboration when developing and finalizing its spouse employment guidance, such as agreeing on roles and responsibilities and developing compatible policies and procedures.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation. While DOD said it would incorporate collaboration practices as the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program matures, it has already taken initial action in this area. For example, DOD noted that it created the advisory group, as well as partnerships developed with various organizations. These are laudable efforts, however, they do not directly address the specifics of our recommendation to develop and finalize guidance for spouse employment programs. Incorporating key collaboration practices into the guidance that DOD is developing, such as agreeing on roles and responsibilities, would be beneficial. In September 2014, the agency reported that the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program drafted a DoD Instruction (DoDI) and Field Guide that outlines roles and responsibilities and establishes compatible policies and procedures across DoD and MSEP programs. These documents include coordination from the Spouse Ambassador Network (SAN). A SECO DoDI Working Group will be convened in FY15 to assist in policy development and coordination. The estimated date of completion for the SECO DoDI and Field Guide was originally December 2015 but DOD reported in 2016 that possible coordination through the Federal Register may delay final publication until early 2016. SECO drafted a SECO Performance Management Plan that documents all elements of the comprehensive, integrated SECO program, including SECO Processes (Programs and Services), SECO Outputs (Products), SECO Outcomes (Product Results), and SECO Impact Evaluation (Product Effectiveness targets and measures). Due to its comprehensive nature, this tool will be tested and further refined during FY15.
    Director: Jones, Yvonne D
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that Congress is fully apprised of efforts to resolve a case, Congress may wish to consider amending USERRA to require DOJ and OSC to report on additional time taken to resolve a matter after they decline representation.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 28, 2017, this matter has not yet been considered by Congress.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that that servicemembers who file complaints are adequately being informed of their USERRA complaint process rights in accordance with VBIA 2008, Congress may wish to consider amending USERRA to require DOL to report on the extent to which it is notifying complainants of their USERRA complaint process rights within 5 days of filing a complaint.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 28, 2017, this matter has not yet been considered by Congress.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOJ handles state cases as expediently as private employer cases, Congress may wish to consider amending USERRA to specifically require DOJ to adhere to the same 60-day deadline for state employer matters that they must adhere to for matters against private employers.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 28, 2017, this matter has not yet been considered by Congress.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that servicemembers in state employer cases are kept apprised of the status of DOJ's decision making without potentially compromising DOJ's ability to successfully bring suit against state employers, Congress may wish to consider amending USERRA to require DOJ to notify these servicemembers of the status of DOJ's efforts.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 28, 2017, this matter has not yet been considered by Congress.