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Open Recommendations

Higher Education: VA Could Improve Support for Veterans Pursuing STEM Degrees

GAO-22-105326
Sep 29, 2022
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5 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Veterans Affairs The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should clarify in its outreach materials and on its webpage that the Rogers STEM scholarship does not include all the benefits provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. (Recommendation 1)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of Veterans Affairs The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should clearly communicate the status of the application, next steps, and timeframes for the final application decision in its interim letters to Rogers STEM scholarship applicants. (Recommendation 2)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of Veterans Affairs The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should clearly communicate in its letter denying a Rogers STEM scholarship whether the applicant may be eligible in the future and how to proceed. (Recommendation 3)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of Veterans Affairs The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should improve the application denial categories tracked by the agency to collect more precise data on the reasons for denying applications for the Rogers STEM scholarship. (Recommendation 4)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of Veterans Affairs The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should develop a plan to analyze the Rogers STEM scholarship application data on a continual basis and address, as needed, identified disparities in denial rates by race or sex. (Recommendation 5)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Homelessness: VA Provides Support to the Most Vulnerable Women Veterans and Has Taken Steps to Improve Services

GAO-22-105360
Sep 08, 2022
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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Veterans Affairs The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should evaluate and report to Congress and the public on SSVF's efforts and progress in improving service provider quality (Recommendation 1).
Open
VA concurred in principle with this recommendation. VA stated that SSVF's annual report is and has been available to Congress and the public on its website and that it is open to further refining its report to include any missing information moving forward. In addition to the ongoing efforts the agency noted about publishing information in the annual report, we continue to encourage VA to focus specifically on evaluating and reporting on its recent efforts to improve service provider quality. For example, VA could consider reporting on whether participant satisfaction survey response rates are increasing or what differences, if any, are reported by veterans as analyzed by different demographics.

VA Disability: Clearer Claims Processing Guidance Needed for Selected Agent Orange Conditions

GAO-22-105191
Sep 01, 2022
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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Veterans Affairs The Under Secretary for Benefits should clarify the guidance in its claims processing manual to make clear that claims processors can potentially support a rationale for service connection—or request a medical opinion—for early-onset peripheral neuropathy, chloracne, or PCT without medical documentation of the condition from during or within 1 year of service in Vietnam. For example, in sections of the manual that discuss the 1-year manifestation period requirement, VA could define key terms, add examples of acceptable lay evidence, and include cross references to other sections of the manual to help claims processors better understand the guidance. (Recommendation 1)
Open
VA agreed with this recommendation. VA stated that it will evaluate the current guidance in its claims processing manual and determine how best to clarify the 1-year manifestation period requirement for the three conditions. We will close this recommendation after VA has modified its guidance to be clearer on the steps claims processors should take to fully assess these claims for service connection.

VA Disability Benefits: Compensation Program Could Be Strengthened by Consistently Following Leading Reform Practices

GAO-22-104488
Aug 17, 2022
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8 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Veterans Affairs The Under Secretary for Benefits should develop and use performance measures to assess the Exam Management System's effect on claims processing time. These measures should align with best practices in Agile development. (Recommendation 1)
Open
VA concurred in principle with this recommendation. The agency noted several encouraging achievements in expediting disability exams. For example, VA noted that claims processors receive completed examinations faster since EMS was implemented. However, without performance measures, these achievements lack context for understanding progress toward established expectations for improving timeliness. We continue to believe that developing and using performance measures to assess the effect of EMS on claims processing is warranted to help determine the impact of the investment in this system on claims processing. We will monitor the agency's efforts to address this recommendation.
Department of Veterans Affairs The Under Secretary for Benefits should address the training, expertise, and testing tool deficiencies with the user-testing of the Exam Management System. (Recommendation 2)
Open
VA concurred with this recommendation. The agency plans to identify qualified testing support for the Exam Management System (EMS), including evaluating an option to use contractors as a core set of testers. We will monitor VA's efforts to implement this recommendation.
Department of Veterans Affairs The Under Secretary for Benefits should develop a project road map that provides the strategic vision and goals and related time frames for completing the Exam Management System. This road map should align with best practices in Agile development to monitor the value of work completed and whether its meets stakeholder needs. (Recommendation 3)
Open
VA agreed with this recommendation and plans to develop a project road map for EMS development. This road map will include the strategic vision and goals for the system and provide a timeline for future features. We will monitor the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
Department of Veterans Affairs The Under Secretary for Benefits should document clearly defined outcome-oriented goals and develop related levels of performance or targets to enable VBA to analyze and report on improvements to military sexual trauma disability claims processing. (Recommendation 4)
Open
VA agreed with this recommendation. VA plans to define outcome-oriented goals and levels of performance to support improvements to military sexual trauma disability claims processing. We will monitor the agency's progress in addressing this recommendation.
Department of Veterans Affairs The Under Secretary for Benefits should develop a detailed plan for incorporating input from military sexual trauma disability claimants and VSO representatives into changes to the processing of those disability claims. (Recommendation 5)
Open
VA concurred with this recommendation. VA plans to develop a detailed plan for incorporating input from military sexual trauma disability claimants and their veterans service organization representatives into changes to the processing of these claims. We will monitor the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
Department of Veterans Affairs The Under Secretary for Benefits should update the implementation plan and timeline to identify deliverables, time frames, and interim milestones for consolidating military sexual trauma disability claims processing. (Recommendation 6)
Open
VA agrees with this recommendation. The agency plans to update its implementation plan and timeline for consolidating military sexual trauma disability claims processing. We will monitor VA's efforts to implement this recommendation.
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