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Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Veterans Affairs

GAO-19-358SP Published: Mar 28, 2019. Publicly Released: Apr 08, 2019.
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Fast Facts

Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help improve the federal government. We alert department heads to our recommendations that can save the most money, address issues on our High Risk List, or significantly improve government operations.

This report outlines our 30 priority open recommendations for the Department of Veterans Affairs as of March 2019.

For example, we recommended in 2018 that VA should monitor the timeliness of veterans' health care to see whether community providers and VA facilities are comparable. 

Since our previous letter in April 2018, VA has implemented 5 of our priority recommendations.


Graphic showing that this report discusses GAO's 2019 priority recommendations for the Department of Veterans Affairs

Graphic showing that this report discusses GAO's 2019 priority recommendations for the Department of Veterans Affairs

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What GAO Found

In April 2018, GAO identified 26 priority recommendations for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Since then, VA has implemented 5 of those recommendations by taking actions to enhance services for veterans readjusting to civilian life, holding VA medical centers accountable for assessing the competencies of its human resources staff, and improving its ability to manage a major information technology project, among other things.  As a result, VA improved oversight and accountability, and made progress in addressing long-standing challenges with providing health care and other VA services to veterans.In addition to the 5 recommendations that VA has implemented, GAO closed 1 priority recommendation as unimplemented, because it was based on a program that has recently undergone significant statutory changes.

In March 2019, GAO identified 10 additional priority recommendations for VA, bringing the total number to 30. These recommendations involve improving

  • oversight of veterans’ access to timely health care;
  • oversight of veterans' community care program;
  • management of human capital;
  • management of information technology;
  • appeals reform for disability benefits;
  •  oversight to ensure safe, high quality care for veterans;
  • management of national policy documents;
  • management of contracting policies and practices; and
  • management of VA’s national cemetery program.

VA’s continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations.

Why GAO Did This Study

Priority recommendations are open GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies, because their implementation couldsave large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and that funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015, GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations.

For more information, contact A. Nikki Clowers at 202-512-7114 or

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Access to health careAppealsAppeals processDisability benefitsHuman capital managementInformation technologyPolicies and proceduresQuality of careVeterans health careVeterans disability benefitsProcurement practices