New Legislation and Stronger Program Management Needed To Improve Effectiveness of VA's Vocational Rehabilitation Program

HRD-80-47: Published: Feb 26, 1980. Publicly Released: Feb 29, 1980.

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The Veterans Administration (VA) vocational rehabilitation program was established to restore the employability of veterans whose employability has been lost because of a service-connected disability. Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the program to determine whether a revision of authorizing legislation would correct major program problems or whether other actions should be taken to improve the program's effectiveness.

The most important of several factors contributing the program's limited effectiveness was a lack of strong central management and accountability for program results at the central office level. No single organizational unit or individual had been given the authority and management responsibility for overall direction and control of the program. In addition, the objectives established by the central office, and the VA management information system, were geared to broad functions and processes that encompassed all VA programs, rather than focusing on a specific program's intended and actual results and outcomes. Other factors that limited the effectiveness of the program included financial disincentives caused by competition from other VA benefits; problems in program outreach and enrollment practices; and a lack of comprehensive rehabilitative services.

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