The VA Black Hole: Where Warriors are Becoming Backlog


2012-08-10 On our companion site Second Line of Defense Forum, we have published an interesting piece by Al Poteet on the VA situation.  As he puts it, “Warriors used to be applauded at sports stadiums.  Now they are backlog.”

Mr. Poteet is a former Army gunship pilot with two tours in the Republic of Vietnam; a registered lobbyist for the Veterans of Foreign Wars;Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs; Director of three VA Regional Offices; a VA Medical Center Director; and Executive Director of the President’s  Task Force To Improve Health care Delivery For Our Nation’s Veterans. He resides in central Texas with his wife Miriam.

Poteet argues that

It is time to stop kicking the can down the road and make the difficult decision to completely reorganize VBA.

We need to establish a reinvention blueprint designed to operate in the 21st Century The goal of this “reinvention” would be to dramatically improve efficiency and productivity, recruit and train claims development and rating specialists, to reduce significantly claims adjudication timeliness for veterans and their families.

VBA field Directors should be provided with a basic mission framework but encouraged to implement and capitalize on cost-saving initiatives, efficiencies, productivity increases, and time-saving claims processing developed to meet the demand by veterans within their jurisdiction. Contingent with this freedom to solve problems and improve processes is accountability.

The best course of action for VBA to pursue is one that does not overly rely on IT solutions or touts significant productivity increases not based on fact.

It is vital that additional cadre of highly-trained Rating Veteran Service Reps (Rating Specialists) be recruited, hired, and trained to augment existing adjudication workforce. We need real persons, not the functional equivalent of the private sector endless cycle of voice mail choices.

Additional rating and development staff is mission critical if VBA is to effectively work down the backlog.

VBA’s leadership continues to grapple with systemic problems that require more than IT solutions, automated paperless systems (being piloted at two small ROs), and new telephone capabilities.

With the help of visionary leaders, a “reinvented” learning organization must be quickly designed, approved, and implemented that builds on the lessons learned over many years. Otherwise, new “transformations” will simply leave us with the proverbial train wreck waiting to happen.

For the full article go to the following link