Vocational Rehabilitation

Better VA Management Needed to Help Disabled Veterans Find Jobs Gao ID: HRD-92-100 September 4, 1992

Millions of veterans have disabilities resulting from military service, and some need help in finding and keeping jobs. The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) rehabilitation program traditionally stressed job training rather than job placement. Congress overhauled the program in 1980 and made suitable employment for veterans the main objective. In practice, however, VA acted on this change only recently, and so far the agency has received little help from either the Labor Department or state agencies in landing jobs for veterans. Of the more than 200,000 veterans enrolled in the program between 1983 and 1991, 71 percent dropped out. The significance of this trend is unclear because VA has not collected and analyzed meaningful data. Furthermore, VA standards for measuring service to veterans do not appear to challenge VA employees to provide better service. GAO believes that benchmarking performance, rather than setting rigid standards, would allow VA managers to continually improve services to veterans and measure progress toward achieving program objectives.

GAO found that VA: (1) focuses its program on training, although legislation requires that it also provide job placement services; (2) arrangements with other agencies that offer job search activities have produced only limited job search assistance; (3) does not know why 71 percent of the 202,000 veterans accepted into the rehabilitation program dropped out before obtaining suitable employment; (4) does not collect sufficient data or document drop-out reasons and has not made any special efforts to identify key reasons why veterans drop out of the rehabilitation program; and (5) has instituted a systematic approach to monitoring and assessing the program, but it is not very helpful, since it uses previous actual performance as the standard for the following year's performance, does not consider all program participants in measuring program effectiveness, and has not established standards in all necessary areas.


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