VA Needs a Single System To Measure Hospital Productivity

AFMD-81-23: Published: Mar 24, 1981. Publicly Released: Apr 28, 1981.

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GAO was requested to compare the productivity of Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals with that of private and public sector hospitals, outlining the reasons for any differences found. Particular interest was expressed in the measurement systems used to make the comparison.

GAO was unable to perform more than a limited comparison of VA hospital productivity with that of non-VA hospitals or with other VA hospitals because of inadequate productivity measurement data. VA has a few partly developed productivity measures but they cannot easily be used to compare with non-VA hospitals because of the differences in the methods of measuring resources used and services provided. A similar lack of uniformity hampers comparisons between VA hospitals. Although efforts are underway to establish several management information systems which could provide productivity measures, these are not yet completed and, if installed as currently planned, will overlap each other. Measurement of productivity provides managers with information for controlling and budgeting functions, maintaining accountability, linking individual and organizational performance with aspects of personnel management, and improving productivity. One way these measures can be used to improve productivity is by comparing productivity levels of similar operations to determine the method of conducting the operations. GAO concluded that VA managers have little information to support their own efforts either to improve productivity or control resources through the budget process.

Recommendation 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 establish a schedule for developing an adequate, single, hospital productivity measurement system for the entire Department of Medicine and Surgery using one of the systems currently being developed as a basis. A system guidance role should be assigned to an agencywide, user-oriented body such as the Multi-Level Care Steering Committee, which would have responsibility for ensuring that: (1) the measurement system is coordinated with other management information systems; (2) duplicate data collection is eliminated; (3) data collected and reports developed are uniform across appropriate units of the agency; and (4) an annual status report is provided to VA management, the Office of Management and Budget, and the appropriations committees of Congress.

    Agency Affected: Veterans Administration


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