Report Highlights: Review of VBA’sTransition to a Paperless ClaimsProcessing Environment
Why We Did This Review
In May 2012, the House AppropriationsCommittee directed the OIG to evaluate theVeterans Benefits Management System(VBMS) to determine whether VA hasperformed sufficient testing, and to assesswhether the Veterans BenefitsAdministration (VBA) can meet its goal of eliminating the disability claims backlog andincreasing the accuracy rate of processingclaims to 98 percent by 2015. We addressedthis mandate as part of our ongoing work toevaluate effectiveness of VBA’s efforts toscan and digitize veterans’ claims to supportpaperless processing.
What We Found
As of September 2012, in the early stages of VBMS system development, VA had notfully tested VBMS. Due to the incrementaldevelopment approach VA chose, thesystem had not been fully developed to theextent that its capability to process claimsfrom initial application through review,rating, award, to benefits delivery could besufficiently evaluated. While we did notevaluate the quality of system testing, wedetermined, the partial VBMS capabilitydeployed to date has experienced systemperformance issues.Further, scanning and digitization of veterans’ claims lacked a detailed plan andan analysis of requirements. We identifiedissues hindering VBA’s efforts to converthard-copy claims to electronic format forprocessing within VBMS, includingdisorganized electronic claims folders andimproper management of hard-copy claims.VA senior officials stated they have takenrecent actions to improve in the areasidentified. However, given the incrementalsystem development approach used and thecomplexity of the automation initiative, VAwill continue to face challenges in meetingits goal of eliminating the backlog of disability claims processing by 2015.Because the system was in an early stage of development, we could not examine whetherVBMS was improving VBA’s ability toprocess claims with 98 percent accuracy.
What We Recommended
We recommended VA establish a plan withmilestones for resolving system issues anddevelop a detailed approach to scanning anddigitizing claims so that transformationefforts do not adversely affect claimsprocessing and add to the existing backlog.
The Under Secretary for Benefits and theAssistant Secretary for Information andTechnology concurred
with our reportrecommendations and provided technicalcomments for consideration. We will closethe recommendations when we receivesufficient evidence demonstrating VAprogress in addressing the issues identified.Appendix C includes the full text of VA’scomments.
LINDA A. HALLIDAYAssistant Inspector Generalfor Audits and Evaluations