Management

VA paperless benefits rollout gains speed

graph showing veterans age

GAO found that the number of younger veterans receiving benefits is growing. (GAO graphic)

The Department of Veterans Affairs is in the continual process of rolling out the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS), and the Hartford, Conn. office is leading the way. In September, the Connecticut office was the first to switch over to VBMS, and "the digital, paperless system now used in 18 locations around the nation, is to be fielded in all 56 offices by the end of" 2013 The Washington Post reported.

According to the VA, VBMS is a way for the agency to cut down the average processing time when a Veteran files a claim, on average from 240 days to 119. The $537 million system was implemented in part due to a backlog of paperwork "of claims filed by veterans seeking disability benefits has soared in recent years as troops have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan and because of a policy change making it easier for Vietnam veterans to file Agent Orange-related claims," The Washington Post reported in a July 2012 story.

In order to go all-paperless, the VA will have to scan and extract data from the current paper claims, a daunting task that the VA apparently has no detailed plans for, according to services representatives. Other problems include older veterans continuing to file on paper and slow software systems.

In April 2012, FCW reported on a hearing in which veterans’ representatives said getting rid of the claims backlog should not be the only priority. Jeffrey Hall, assistant national legislative director for Disabled American Veterans, said that reforms for the VA should dig deeper.

"While the elimination of the backlog will be a welcome milestone, we must remember that eliminating the backlog is not necessarily the same goal as reforming the claims processing system, nor does it guarantee that veterans are better served," Hall said. "The backlog is a symptom, not the root cause."

About the Author

Emily Cole is an editorial intern for FCW.

Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.