In a follow-up review, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) determined that the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) has been only “partially effective” in its management of cost, performance, and scheduling. The OIG noted that despite the VMBS spending increase from $579 million in September 2009 to about $1.3 billion in January 2015, VA could not ensure an effective return on investment.
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Although the September 2, 2015, OIG report was unable to accurately distinguish how many of the more than 307,000 records for veterans reported as deceased by the Social Security Administration had applied for health care benefits, it did substantiate the allegation that employees were manipulating data to make the backlog appear much smaller than it was. The OIG reported that employees incorrectly marked unprocessed applications as completed and possibly deleted 10,000 or more transactions from the Workload Reporting and Productivity tool over the past 5 years.
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Deputy Inspector General Linda A. Halliday stated, “As this issue demonstrates, whistleblowers have proven to be a valuable information source to pursue accountability and corrective actions in VA programs.”
Among its most critical recommendations, the OIG seeks results from the Office of Information and Technology, in conjunction with the Under Secretary for Benefits, to define and stabilize system and business requirements, address system performance problems, deploy required functionality to process claims end-to-end, and institute metrics needed to identify and ensure progress toward meeting stated goals.
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The VA goals included a 98% claims processing accuracy and elimination of the disability claims backlog by the end of 2015.