Administration of and Veterans' Participation in the VA Beneficiary Travel Program

HRD-85-28: Published: Feb 7, 1985. Publicly Released: Mar 11, 1985.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed a Veterans Administration (VA) beneficiary travel program which pays transportation expenses of eligible veterans who travel between their residences and medical facilities for treatment and assistance.

GAO found that internal controls over beneficiary travel expenditures at the 13 medical centers visited were adequately implemented to provide reasonable assurance that the program was operating in a manner that prevented fraud and program abuse and minimized error and waste. GAO identified 13 areas of vulnerability which were susceptible to abuse or mismanagement. All but four of these areas appeared to be adequately controlled. However, because the median travel cost of veterans interviewed was relatively low, the costs to implement additional controls would exceed the expected benefits. GAO found that the medical centers have little incentive to overestimate or underestimate their budgets for beneficiary travel activities because allotments for each center are determined before detailed budgets are developed by the centers; however, during the year, centers can make reallocations between their beneficiary travel accounts and other accounts to fund unplanned activities or increases in program costs. GAO found that veterans received cash reimbursements primarily for round trips made between the centers and their residences. About 68 percent of the veterans had a service-connected disability and more than half of the veterans without a service-connected disability were receiving VA pensions. GAO found that, during 1 day, 23,817 veterans received reimbursements or used special modes of transportation to get to health care facilities at a cost of $328,580.

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