The Veterans Benefits Administration

Clarifying Information on Implementing the Results Act Performance Requirements Gao ID: HEHS-98-149R April 17, 1998

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided follow-up information on the Veterans Benefits Administration's (VBA) implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.

GAO noted that: (1) federal agencies' planning efforts in implementing the Results Act are still very much a work in progress; (2) GAO is continuing to assess federal agencies' implementation of the Results Act and are currently reviewing their performance plans; (3) for programs involving human services, the Department of Human Services had identified goals that largely focused on outcomes; (4) moving agencies towards results-oriented management and associated performance measurements is a significant challenge regardless of whether the agencies are dealing with technological-based results or those dependent upon human behavior; (5) officials at the Department of Energy stated that the development of performance measures is difficult--especially in the science area--and that they recognize the need to continually work to improve these measures; (6) GAO believes that judging the success or failure of the Results Act should turn on the extent to which information produced through the act's goal-setting and performance measurement practices helps inform policy decisions; (7) since the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began its efforts to develop a departmentwide strategic plan last year, GAO has assessed VBA's progress in implementing the Results Act at the request of Congress; (8) the initial goals and measures for the VBA programs, as stated in VA's June 1997 draft strategic plan, were process-oriented and did not reflect program results; (9) VBA needs to coordinate with other agencies and effectively measure and assess its performance in meeting its goals; (10) in February 1997, VA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) reported that data on claims-processing times were inaccurate and that it questioned the data reliability in the claims-processing reporting system; (11) more recently, an ongoing OIG audit has found evidence of the manipulation of data by regional office staffs to give the appearance that claims were being processed more quickly than they really were; and (12) VBA is developing safeguards to prevent data manipulation, and its plans for addressing this issue are expected to be available in several months.

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