Veterans' Affairs:

Veterans Benefits Administration's Progress and Challenges in Implementing GPRA

T-HEHS-97-131: Published: May 14, 1997. Publicly Released: May 14, 1997.

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Stephen P. Backhus
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GAO discussed the progress made and challenges faced by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) in implementing the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA).

GAO noted that: (1) VBA has taken an important first step in implementing GPRA, but this process is an evolving one; (2) to date, VBA has developed a strategic plan with a mission and goals and has begun consultation with the Congress and other stakeholders to obtain their views on its plan; (3) for the compensation and pension program, VBA has identified specific performance measures for such factors as timeliness and accuracy in processing claims; (4) however, these measures are primarily process-oriented; (5) as it continues through the planning process, VBA also needs to ensure that its strategic plan focuses on results, as required by GPRA, such as those related to the overall purpose of the program, and not merely on the process used to administer the benefits; (6) in addition, to help ensure quality service, VBA needs to integrate its strategic plan with VA's overall plan and with the plans of other key federal agencies, such as the Department of Defense and the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service; (7) down the road, VBA will also need to ensure that it effectively measures and assesses its performance, as mandated by GPRA, to determine how well its programs are meeting their goals and making improvements; and (8) GAO's prior work suggests that VBA will be challenged in implementing GPRA because it has had difficulties in the past in bringing about program improvements.

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