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Highlights

The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) has a large inventory of claims for benefits under its compensation and pension programs. The Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs has pledged to substantially reduce this inventory in order to improve timeliness. In response, VBA emphasized producing more claims decisions per year. GAO was asked to ascertain how accuracy has changed since VBA increased its emphasis on production and to report on the agency's efforts to ensure the accuracy of its decisions.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Veterans Benefits Administration 1. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits to report the accuracy of VBA disability compensation and pension claims decisions to the Congress and other stakeholders in a manner that allows for valid comparisons of accuracy across fiscal years.
Closed - Implemented
In its Fiscal Year 2003 Annual Performance and Accountability Report, the Department of Veterans Affairs reported the accuracy of its rating work using the same measure of accuracy for all years reported, ensuring valid comparisons of accuracy across fiscal years.
Veterans Benefits Administration 2. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits to better hold regional offices accountable for the accuracy of their claims decisions, by increasing the use of its regional office accuracy data, while at the same time maintaining an appropriate emphasis on production.
Closed - Implemented
In its Fiscal Year 2004 Performance Awards Program, VBA made meeting a claims rating accuracy standard a prerequisite for receiving a performance award.

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