Veterans Benefits Administration:

Progress and Challenges in Implementing the Results Act

T-HEHS-98-125: Published: Mar 26, 1998. Publicly Released: Mar 26, 1998.

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Stephen P. Backhus
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GAO discussed the Veterans Benefits Administration's (VBA) implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.

GAO noted that: (1) VBA continues to make progress in setting goals and measuring its programs' performance but faces significant challenges in its efforts to successfully implement the Results Act; (2) VBA has efforts under way to address these challenges, which if continued will help ensure success; (3) for example, VBA is in the process of developing results-oriented goals and measures for each of its programs in response to concerns that GAO and others have raised; (4) developing more results-oriented goals and measures will require VBA to address difficult and sensitive questions regarding specific benefit programs, such as whether disabled veterans are being compensated appropriately under the existing disability program structure; (5) to address these questions, VBA is continuing its consultations with Congress, begun last year in conjunction with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) strategic planning efforts; (6) VBA also has efforts under way to coordinate with agencies that support veterans' benefits programs, such as the Department of Defense, in achieving specific goals; (7) to successfully implement the Results Act, VBA must also develop effective strategies for achieving its performance goals and ensure that it has accurate, reliable data to measure its progress in achieving these goals; (8) VBA is in the early stages of developing clear and specific strategies but has not yet clearly demonstrated how these strategies will help it achieve the intended results; (9) morever, VBA does not yet have the data needed to effectively measure its performance in several key areas; (10) for example, one goal is to ensure that VBA is providing the best value for the taxpayer dollar; however, VBA currently is unable to calculate the full cost of providing benefits and services to veterans; (11) in addition, VBA officials and VA's Inspector General (IG) have raised concerns about the accuracy of data VBA is currently collecting; (12) for example, completed ongoing IG audits have identified data integrity problems with VBA's claims processing timeliness data; and (13) VBA is currently determining how best to address these concerns.

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