VBA benefits from tech consortium know-how

The Veterans Benefits Administration, which handles close to 1 billion pages of documents annually, late last year began a pilot project designed to steer the agency toward paperless claims processing.

The project, detailed today by VBA undersecretary Joseph Thompson at the Virtual Government conference in Washington, D.C., was undertaken on a pro bono basis by a technology consortium called Highway 1, whose members include Microsoft Corp., IBM Corp. and Computer Sciences Corp., among others.

Highway 1 used commercial computer products to scan and electronically store hundreds of pages of documents at VBA's Washington regional office. The new electronic images of veterans' records can be easily accessed by VBA workers when processing veterans' claims for benefits.

Frederic Messing, senior consulting engineer for CSC, said VBA will have to determine how it can improve and deploy the new document management system that Highway 1 put together. Messing said the goal behind the project was not to automate VBA fully but "to have VBA head down a new path."

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