Before the Veterans Affairs Department's program to verify service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses could expand governmentwide, the VA would have to address a slew of issues it faces verifying its own contractors, the Government Accountability Office says. Auditors say VA's struggles come down to a tension between competing goals: creating opportunities for veterans and preventing fraud.
The federal government needs to better coordinate and monitor veteran employment services to adequately serve the more than 1 million servicemembers projected to leave the military and seek civilian employment from 2011 to 2016, says the Government Accountability Office.
A senior Veterans Affairs Deparment official has resigned and other been reassigned as fallout from the VA's 2011 conference spending scandal continues.Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee , said the resignations and reshuffling are not enough to rebuild agency trust because the VA officials have not accepted responsibility for the abuse.
A lack of standards for its physicians' productivity hampers the Veterans Health Administration's ability to determine how many physicians it needs, the Veterans Affairs office of inspector general says. VHA didn't have such standards for 31 of the 33 specialty services auditors reviewed.
Parkinson's disease, seizures, dementia, depression and hormone deficiency would count as service-connected disabilities under a rule the Veterans Affairs Department proposed Dec. 10 for veterans who have also suffered a traumatic brain injury.
This last fiscal year was a watershed for the Veterans Administration Department's telehealth services, which provided nearly 1.4 million consultations to almost 500,000 patients, 30 percent of whom live in rural areas where they may otherwise have limited access to VA healthcare, according to a presentation (.pdf) from Adam Darkins, VA chief consultant for telehealth services.
While the overall number of homeless people in the United States stayed roughly the same during 2011, veterans made up a smaller portion of them, says the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The homelessness rate among veterans has dropped by 7.2 percent, or 4,876 people.
The Veterans Affairs and Defense departments will have a plan by early January 2013 to "meet or beat" the previously-established schedule for standing up an Integrated Electronic Health Record . "We've got to do everything we can to move this on a more expeditious path," said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during a Dec. 6 joint press briefing.
Veterans groups are worried that the Veterans Affairs Department's plans to transition to paperless records do not fully address the workload and scope of current records. At a Dec. 4 hearing of the House Committee on Veteran's Affairs, groups raised concern over the methods the VA will use to cut down its backlog of disability claims filed by veterans, which have reached more than 900,000 claims.
A majority of the senior general schedule employees within the Veterans Affairs Department office of information technology will be eligible to retire by 2016, says an internal OIT report obtained by FierceGovernmentIT through a Freedom of Information Act request.