VA completes automating claims processing system
New system processes five times as many claims per day, officials say
The Veterans Affairs Department can process five times as many claims per day from veterans applying for Post 9/11-GI Bill financial benefits after completing an automation of the claims processing system last month, officials said.
The VA now is processing about 10,000 GI Bill claims per day, compared with 2,000 claims per day a year ago, Keith Wilson, VA’s education service director, said in a recent conference call with reporters. The law offers veterans financial support for educational programs, vocational training and housing.
The VA finished installing the “Long-Term Solution for GI Bill Payments” on Aug. 23, and all 1,200 claims processors are currently using the new system, Roger Baker, assistant secretary for information and technology, said in the call.
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“We are extremely pleased. There were no processing hiccups,” Baker said. “Our main path is installed and working correctly.”
The VA is gearing up for an anticipated surge in enrollments under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, from 157,000 last year to 206,000 so far in 2010, Wilson said.
Under the processing system, “our productive capacity is much higher. This puts us in a much better position” for processing the enrollments and payments," he added. About 130,000 have been paid benefits under the law this year, he said.
The majority of veterans — about 80 percent — use the Veterans Online Application (VONAPP) system to enroll for GI Bill benefits, along with health, disability and other benefits, Wilson said. Although VONAPP is operating satisfactorily, an ongoing upgrade program for the VONAPP application has problems, Baker confirmed. On the VA’s online IT dashboard, the VONAPP-2 development is given an overall rating of “Project Failing.”
“VONAPP-2 has been problematic for us,” Baker said. “We are trying to straighten it out.”
However, he emphasized that VONAPP is up and running and is experiencing no operational problems at this time.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.