The House Appropriations Committee has produced the first of the regular annual spending bills for the upcoming fiscal year, a measure covering the VA and military construction functions that keeps oversight pressure on several aspects of VA operations.
The bill requires additional reporting on the status of VA claims processing while devoting additional resources to the backlog of some 300,000 disability claims. It adds $50 million above the amount the White House requested to be used for digital scanning of health records and overtime pay.
The measure also requires that large construction projects be managed outside of the VA, limits transfers between construction projects, limits changes in the scope of construction projects, restricts certain spending actions without notification to Congress, and fences off funding for an electronic health records project until VA meets certain data requirements.
It further includes funding for the department’s new office of accountability and whistleblower protection.