VA losing ground on GI benefits automation program, IG says

The Veterans Affairs Department has been only partially effective in automating the processing of veterans’ education benefits under the post-9/11 GI Bill, according to a new report fro the VA’s Office of Inspector General.

The Veterans Benefits Administration and the VA Office of Information and Technology are jointly overseeing work on implementing an interim solution as well as incrementally developing a long-term solution to fully automate delivery of education benefits. The IT office applied the Project Management Accountability System (PMAS) to the automation project.

The first and second increments were delivered on schedule this March and June, respectively. However, functionality was limited due to unanticipated complexities discovered during system development, Belinda Finn, assistant IG for audits and evaluations, wrote in a report dated Sept. 30.


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Meanwhile, the program still has risks, Finn added.

“In the absence of effective cost and performance controls, the Office of Information and Technology runs the risk that future long-term solution releases will continue to meet schedule, but at the expense of performance and cost,” Finn concluded.

The report recommends that:

  • The assistant secretary for information and technology put in place an independent milestone review process to ensure oversight and support decision-making on project directions.
  • The same assistant secretary develop a strategy for starting program management disciplines and accounting systems needed to support monitoring and measuring project costs.

Stephen Warren, principal deputy assistant secretary for information and technology, said in an appendix that the IT office’s officials agree with the findings and recommendations.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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