Veterans Benefits Administration:

Focusing on Results in Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Programs

T-HEHS-97-148: Published: Jun 5, 1997. Publicly Released: Jun 5, 1997.

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

GAO noted that: (1) VBA has taken an important first step in implementing the Results Act, but this process is an evolving one; (2) to date, VBA has developed a strategic plan with a mission and goals and has begun consulting with the Congress and other stakeholders to obtain their views on its plan; (3) for the vocational rehabilitation and educational assistance programs, VBA has identified specific goals and measures that are primarily process oriented; (4) while these goals and measures are important, the key to successful implementation of the act is to focus on results; (5) as it continues through the planning process, VBA needs to strive to focus its strategic plan on results, as required by the act, such as those related to the overall purpose of these programs--to assist veterans in their readjustment to civilian life after military service--and not merely on the process used to administer benefits, such as the timeliness and accuracy of claims processing; (6) in addition, to help it achieve quality service, VBA needs to integrate its strategic plan with VA's overall plan and with the plans of other key federal agencies that support veterans' benefits programs, such as the Department of Defense, the Department of Education's state vocational rehabilitation and Student Financial Assistance programs, 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 the act, to determine how well its programs are meeting their goals and making improvements; and (8) VBA is aware of the need to focus on results and is currently working through this process.

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