VA has announced actions it will take to address challenges and issues identified by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) when it placed VA on its High-Risk List. The move is designed to address lingering deficiencies in its health care system once and for all.

Every two years, GAO calls attention to agencies and program areas that are high risk as a result of vulnerabilities and in need of transformation. VA is currently in the midst of a department-wide modernization that will build capacity for long-term management of GAO High-Risk List activities and strengthen VA’s foundational business practices.

“We thank GAO for its review and for highlighting practices that VA needs to improve,” said VA Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Under President Trump, we are serious about doing business differently to improve Veterans’ care and we are holding ourselves accountable to the nation’s Veterans and to American taxpayers who entrust them to our care.”

GAO identified five specific risk areas when it added VA health care to the federal government’s list of 32 high-risk agencies and programs in 2015: ambiguous policies and inconsistent processes, inadequate oversight and accountability, information technology challenges, inadequate training for VA staff, and unclear resource needs and allocation priorities.  VA 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:

  • Reducing ambiguity and red tape. Eliminated outdated policy documents. VA has already purged more than 235 expired directives and 85 percent of all outdated manuals.
  • Eliminating bureaucracy and streamlining decision making. VA has reduced central office staff positions by 10 percent and consolidated its policy and operations functions in mental health, primary care, and geriatrics to improve support to field activities and Veteran-facing services. These restructuring actions allow VA to become more efficient by pushing decision rights to the lowest appropriate level.
  • Strengthening internal oversight and accountability.  The Veterans Health Administration established the Office of Integrity to consolidate its compliance, ethics, and oversight programs under a single executive, and moved swiftly to establish an internal audit function and associated governance committee that provides the Under Secretary for Health with an independent and objective way to assess operations.
  • Modernizing information technology support.  VA’s Electronic Health Record modernization program will enable seamless care and full interoperability with the Department of Defense’s electronic health record modernization solution, and enhance the ability to exchange Veteran health data with community health partners.
  • Clarifying resource needs and priorities.  VA established a centralized manpower management office to integrate staffing processes, and transformed its financial management methods to improve 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.

VA expects the next GAO report to be released in early 2019.

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Published on Apr. 16, 2018

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  1. Donna Willingham April 20, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    My dad tried for 55yrs to get his benefits and actually died waiting for compensation. So i hope others are quickly helped for their own sake.

  2. Charles Tillman April 20, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    You served your country but who’s serving you now? Top level administrators at the VA are given bonuses for saving the government money. Ask yourself one question, what motivates the VA the most. Giving veterans what they have earned and deserve or receiving those bonuses????

  3. Charles Tillman April 20, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    Halfway decent care? From the VA? Are you trying to be funny? The VA is a joke! The reason it takes so long for the VA to rule on a disability case, the VA is hoping the veteran dies or gives up. Not my words but the words of a well respected veterans disability attorney. Contact your congressman and tell them the VA needs a “house cleaning” fire them all.

  4. William Rankins April 20, 2018 at 11:52 am

    When is the VA going to approve the new Agent/Orange Hypertension favorable and positive finding for Vietnam Veterans that have hypertension? I hope they don’t let money get in the way with all the money the government waste on nothing and over seas instead of giving it to the veterans. Thanks.

  5. Noah Collins April 17, 2018 at 10:35 pm

    I would like to have the benefits that other vets get but since I enlisted in 1967 for three years and did not serve in a combat zone I miss a lot of benefits. I don’t want to take anything away from the vets that do but to get half way decent care I have to drive almost 100 miles to a VA hospital and I do not get paid for the mileage which would help. Just don’t seem fair since I went were they told me to go when I enlisted.

  6. james c contarino sr April 17, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    my biggest question as a totally disabled vietnam veteran is when are they going to do these things and stop saying it year after year. most vietnam veterans are at the end of this long journey. they deserve to be immidiatly have their appeals and so on fifshed. not to delay with more time for their accountability well we are all passing at a very fast does the government accountability call them selfs all for the veterans when their appeals take longer than most of their lives. doing and saying is two different things. us veterans are not dumb. we fouhgt in a war to protect our country. remove the red tape and finish our appeals and issues NOW, not next week or month or year. thank you from a concerned vietnam veteran.

    • David Daniels April 20, 2018 at 8:59 am

      Amen James. My claim has been ongoing for over 6 years. Gave them all they asked for. VA Dr. said my issues were military related, but still no decision. No wonder we lose on average 22 per day….

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