VA call center employees took just 2 calls per day on average

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Veteran employment call centers were so overstaffed that the average employee handled 2.4 calls per day over the course of 13 months, according to an analysis from the Veterans Affairs office of inspector general.

The Veterans Affairs Department established the Veteran Employment Services Office in July 2011 to recruit and retain more veteran employees at the department. Through an interagency agreement with the Office of Personnel Management, VA contracted with a Reston, Va.-based company to provide VESO with two call centers.

From December 2011 through December 2012, the call centers averaged about 180 calls per day, equal to about 2.4 calls per employee, says a VA OIG report (.pdf) dated June 25.

During July 2012--the month with the highest average daily call volume--call center employees still only handled an average of 4.5 calls per day.

That figure dropped to 2.3 calls per day in September. Yet in October, VESO expanded the hours of operation for the call centers to 24/7, "based on contractor projections that the call centers would support an average of 2,189 calls per day," the report says.

By December, the calls per day per employee fell to 1.4. Over 13 months, one call was made for every 12 that were projected, an overestimate of more than 1,000 percent.

As a result, the report says, VA is set to spend at least $13.1 million during fiscals 2013 through 2015 on excess call center capacity.

The call center expansion occurred because the VA human resources office, which was in charge of the acquisition, didn't require VESO to conduct a thorough analysis to show a need to expand its call center services, the report says.

Auditors say that VESO did not routinely request data on call volume or call length from the contractor, and as a result, there wasn't a sufficient business case to justify the expansion.

"In fact, VESO had to specifically request the data we used for this report because it was not routinely provided to them," the report says.

For more:
- download the report, 13-00644-231 (.pdf)

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