Federal Manager's Daily Report

The VA has mapped out a strategy to get itself off GAO’s high-risk list–an uncomfortable and embarrassing place for an agency to be–by focusing on the concerns that landed the VA there in 2015.

Those concerns were ambiguous policies and inconsistent processes, inadequate oversight and accountability, information technology challenges, inadequate training for staff, and unclear resource needs and allocation priorities

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VA said it recently “delivered a comprehensive action plan to GAO that includes these crucial steps the agency has taken to address these risk areas for VA health care, along with a number of others to improve business operations.”

Initiatives it cited included: eliminating 235 expired directives and 85 percent of all outdated manuals; reducing central office positions by 10 percent and consolidating policy and operations functions in mental health, primary care, and geriatrics; establishing an office of integrity in its medical branch to consolidate compliance, ethics, and oversight programs; modernizing health records to make them more compatible with DoD’s health care records and to enhance the ability to exchange information with community-based providers; establishing a centralized manpower management office; and improving resource planning and allocation.

“In addition to addressing the GAO high-risk areas, VA continually responds to GAO recommendations on VA operations throughout each year. At any given time, there are 80 to 100 open recommendations about VA health care. Overall, VA has succeeded in closing approximately 377 recommendations since 2009, and is committed to closing as quickly as possible all 22 recommendations that GAO has identified as high priority,” the VA said.