Veteranclaims’s Blog

November 4, 2010

VAOIG Audit of Post 9-11 GI Bill

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — veteranclaims @ 12:38 am

Veterans Benefits Administration Audit of Education Claims and Payments for the Post-9/11 GI Bill

Summary, Report Number 09-03458-18, 11/3/2010

We conducted this audit to determine whether Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) processed claims and payments timely and accurately. The Post-9/11 GI Bill, enacted in June 2008, required VA begin making benefits payments to students and schools under a complex new education program. Payments began on August 1, 2009. Despite significant challenges, such as an unsuccessful outsourcing effort and reliance upon legacy information systems, VA hired additional staff and developed software to begin payments on August 3, 2009. Claims processing times were slow throughout the fall 2009 school term. However, with limited exceptions, claims payments were generally accurate and at or near the VBA performance standard. Processing delays and some systemic errors occurred due to limited software functionality and inadequate staffing levels. As a result, participating students and schools experienced excessively late payments and potential hardships. About 9,900 students were affected by systemic errors related to allowances totaling $3.2 million for books and supplies and foreign housing. To mitigate potential harm due to late payments, VA provided $356 million in 122,000 emergency payments to persons requesting assistance while waiting for their regular VA education benefits. To enhance claims processing, VA deployed scheduled software releases with increased functionality. To improve staffing, VA added 5 payment authorizing sites, hired 200 more employees, and assigned additional staff on a temporary basis. VBA’s corrective actions, if implemented consistently and successfully, should reduce claims processing delays and systemic payment issues and improve overall accuracy. We are not recommending additional action to address the software and staffing issues discussed above.

We recommend the Acting Under Secretary for Benefits address the education benefits payment errors identified during our audit by paying the amounts still owed for foreign housing allowances and providing instructions to the regional processing offices concerning overpayments of books and supplies. The Acting Under Secretary for Benefits agreed with our findings and recommendations. We consider the planned actions acceptable, and will follow up on their implementation.

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