Skip to Highlights
Highlights

The Ranking Democratic Member, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, asked GAO to determine (1) whether VA's internal assessments indicate its regional offices are complying with the requirements of the Veterans Claims Assistance Act (VCAA) of 2000 for obtaining military service records for veterans' disability compensation claims and (2) whether VBA could improve its procedures for obtaining military service records for claims involving post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Skip to Recommendations

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Veterans Affairs To adequately ensure the quality of the records research done on behalf of regional offices by the VBA unit at the National Personnel Records Center, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits to move forward in implementing a systematic quality review program that evaluates and measures the accuracy of the unit's responses to all types of regional office research requests.
Closed - Implemented
Starting January 2007, the Records Management Center (RMC) increased the systematic quality review program from a computerized review of Personnel Information Exchange system (PIES) responses to a review of the PIES responses and associated records sent with the PIES responses. Three reviewers review 5% of all PIES requests, which is approximately 1000 requests per month. Fifty percent of those responses are reviewed by an actual check of the records that are to be mailed to the regional office and the other 50% are computer reviewed through PIES.
Department of Veterans Affairs To improve its timeliness in deciding PTSD claims, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits to assess whether VBA could systematically utilize an electronic library of historical military records, such as the one compiled by the Chicago regional office, to identify veterans whose PTSD claims can be granted on the basis of information contained in such a library, rather than submitting all research requests to the Joint Services Records Research Center.
Closed - Implemented
In September 2007, the Department of Veterans Affairs Compensation & Pension Service posted to its intranet website a database of historical military records to help claims processing staff verify veterans' claims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) without submitting a research request to the Joint Services Records Research Center (JSRRC). It also conducted online training to help claims processing staff use the database.

Full Report