VA's Veterans Representative on Campus Program

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-09-20.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                                        UNITED        STATES      GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFKE
                                                        WASHINGTON,             D.C.     20548


        Mr. Wallace      E. Busbee,             Director
        Internal    Audit     Service
        Veterans    Administration

        Dear Mr.         Busbee:

                  The General       Accounting      Office       has surveyed           the Veterans
        Administration           (VA) Veterans         Representative             (Vet-Rep)        on Campus
        program      administered        by VA"s Department               of Veterans          Benefits
        (DVB).       Our survey was conducted                at VA's central              office,
        Washington,        D.C.;     the Los Angeles           and Washington,              D.C.,      regiona .l
        offices;       and selected        educational         institutions            within      the
        jurisdiction         of the VA regional            offices        visited.          Limited
        information        also was obtained            via telephone            discussions          with
        officials       6f the New York,           Houston,       St. Petersburg,               and Waco
        VA regional        offices.

               The objective       of our              survey was to get                indications            of
        whether   program     requirements                 were being met               and program            goals
        were being     accomplished.

              Our survey indicated                   various         problems        with        the     program.
        We noted at some of the                   locations          visited       that:

                   --VA educational            assistance           inquiries          (EAIs)          had not
                      been reported          timely.

                   --monthly    reports          of    the     timeliness         of    EAI resolution
                      were misleading.

                   --reports      prepared     by Vet-Rep              supervisors          were         not
                       comprehensive       enough.

                   --school     officials         prohibited           Vet-Reps         to supervise
                      work-study        students.

                Since the locations        visited     during   the survey do not
        represent     a scientific      sample,     problems    identified        may not
        necessarily     be representative          of the national         program.
        Presently,     we do not plan to initiate             a review       of the program.
Reporting        of        Em

         At selected      educational          institutions,            we noted     that   some of
the Vet-Reps        were not calling             in to regional           offices      EAIs involving
non-receipt        of benefit       checks as required                 by VA instructions.           An
official     at the Los Angeles              regional         office     subsequently       reviewed
all     EAIs for a week and found that                     a significant         number of such
EAIs were mailed          to the regional              office       via regular     mail   or VA
 c~ouri er.    Many of these were a week old by the time they were
re'ceived    at the regional           office.           The official         said that    some of
these @Is were batch mailed,                     i.e.,      mailed      when a certain       number
of EAIs were received             without        regard       to the date of the receipt.
The VA official         indicated        he would recommend               action     to correct
the situation.

        We also noted that         certain       monthly      reports       submitted      to the
VA central       office    by the Los Angeles            regional       office      showed that
97 percent       of the EMS handled            from January         through       June 1976 were
resolved      in less than 5 days.            We found that           the regional         office
defined     the resolution        period     to be from the date the regional
office    received      an WI to the date it relayed                    the answer to the
Wet-Rep.        This does not represent             the total       resolution        period
because it does not include               the time for getting                (1) the inquiry
from the veteran         to the regional          office      and (2) the resolution
from the regional          office    to the veteran.

Reporting        by Vet-Rep                             supervisors

        VA requires       two supervisory              visits      a year to each school
having      a Vet-Rep(s).          After      each visit,          the Vet-Rep       supervisor
is to prepare          a written       report      summarizing          the matters      considered
during      the visit.         kle noted that          the majority         of 22 reports
prepared       by the Mashington           VA regional           office's      Vet-Rep
supervisor       during      an 8 l/2 month            period      did not contain        sufficient
information        to assist       other      regional        personnel      in evaluating         the
Vet-Rep's       performance.

Supervision           by Vet-Reps

        According    to 38 U.S.C.     1685, VA work-study       students   performing
outreach      under 38 U.S.C.      241 must work under the supervision             of a
VA employee.        At educational     institutions    serviced     by a full-time
Vet-Rep,      the Vet-Rep     has been designated    as the VA employee          to
provide     such supervision.

          We found that         Vet-Reps   had not provided      direct       supervision
to the work-study             students   involved  in outreach        at four educational
institutions        --three      were under the jurisdiction          of the Los Angeles
regional       office      and one the Washington       regional      office.         School


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     officials         at these     institutions       had prohibited    Vet-Reps        from
     supervising         such students,           VA regional     office officials,         however,
     continued         to authorize         payments   to the work-study       students.

             lrle discussed       the observations             outlined        above with the Director
     of Veterans         Assistance       Service.         He said that           EAT's not requiring
     supporting        documentation         should      be called         into    the regional         office
     rather      than sent by mail           and that        the resolution           time   for EAIs
     should      be computed        from the time          the EAI is received              by the Vet-Rep
     to the time the reply              is forwarded           to the veteran.             Me also said that
     reports       prepared      by Vet-Rep       supervisors           should     contain     sufficient
     information         to enable      other     regional         personnel       to evaluate        Vet-Rep

     -for-supervising~work-study-rpersDnnel:may~be-rteeded,                                       andtthat-such
    --clar+f+cation-may~be-sought+From-VA"s                           General          Counsel,

              The---Director-said-=$hat-:as.-a                 resultl-of         ;ourxdiscussing           %he -above
     &-obkms        wi tti -him, central            offrice       off_icialshave            emphasized-the
     importance          of Idetai ledsupervis-ory--reporting                         by:Veterans          Services
     Division        field     elements        during       hot-IineIdiscussions-between                        -the
     central       office      and the regional              offices.            He   also    stated       that      central
     office      staff     members conducting-staff                       visits      at field       stations         have
     been-alerted           to review        the quality            of supervisory            reports        as well
     as-th'e     timelinessof-.EAI..reporting-.and_resolution.

                The-actions--taken-=by-VA-should--help                       -to    resolve    .-the~problems
     noted-in        our survey;_~hr)wever~~~~eli~:fti~~f~~e~~s                            -Dimrctor,      DVB

              --continuously     monitor     the (1) timeliness                         of EAT reporting,
                  (2) accuracy    of reported       EAI resolution                      time,  and (3) quality
                  of Vet-Rep   Supervisor      reporting,     and                   take appropriate      action
                  to resolve   any problems       noted.

              --seek   whatever-clarification            -of the Vet&Reps'     responsibility
                 for supervising         work-study     personnel   -that may be needed                               and
                  then take appropriate           steps to see that      the responsibility
                  is met.

           Me appreciate        the          cooperation           and courtesy-extended                   to   us by
     VA personnel    during-this                survey.

          Please     advise     us of   any action   taken          or planned       on the
matters        discussed      in this    report.

                                                      Sincerely           yours,

                                                       ----.   4-

                                                       A~:~jr;tant        Director

‘CC:      IXrector,      DVB