Federal Manager's Daily Report

A now-discontinued VA program intended to streamline the processing of veterans’ claims applications suffered from ineffective planning, an IG report has said.

The Decision Ready Claims program, which was discontinued earlier this year, was designed to have veterans to work with an accredited representative, such as a veterans service organization, to assist in gathering the evidence needed for the Veterans Benefits Administration to decide a claim, with a goal of completing claims within 30 days. However, the program fell “far short” of expectations, a report said, mainly because the department failed to learn from the past and failed to coordinate with outside stakeholders.

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“VBA leaders did not fully consider historical data from a similar program as a benchmark when defining program goals. Also, VBA did not obtain broad acceptance from key stakeholders needed to implement the process, nor did it ensure information technology system functionality to allow representatives or veterans access to the system to manage VA records and benefit claims,” it said.

It said that only one of the six major veterans service organizations agreed to participate, and the earlier program, called the Fully Developed Claims program, took four years to reach the level of 25 percent of all claims that the VBA projected that the Decision Ready Claims program would reach once it was put in place.

Because the program has been discontinued the IG made no recommendations but it said the flaws it identified “should be instructive for other new initiatives.”