Why GAO Did This Study
“VBA has increased the use of contractors in conducting veterans’ disability medical exams. From fiscal year 2012 through mid-September fiscal year 2019, VBA reported that the number of exams completed by contractors rose from about 178,000 to nearly 958,000, which is more than half of all exams completed to date in fiscal year 2019. The remaining exams were completed by medical providers from the Veterans Health Administration. According to VBA, its contracts are worth up to $6.8 billion over 10 years.”
“In light of issues GAO identified with VBA’s oversight of contracted examiners in its October 2018 report (GAO-19-13), this testimony provides updates on VA’s efforts to 1) improve its oversight of contracted examiners to ensure quality and timely exams and proper invoicing, and 2) ensure that examiners are properly trained.”
What GAO Found
“The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) has not fully resolved issues regarding how it oversees the quality and timeliness of and invoicing for disability compensation medical exams that are completed by contracted examiners. VBA uses medical exam reports from both VHA and contract examiners to help determine if a veteran should receive disability benefits. GAO reported in October 2018 that VBA was behind in completing quality reviews of contracted exams and did not have accurate information on contractor timeliness. VBA’s lack of quality and timeliness data hindered its oversight of contractors’ performance. In 2018, GAO made recommendations for VBA to address these issues. VBA has begun to implement GAO’s recommendations, but continued action is needed to…”
What GAO Recommends
“GAO made four recommendations in 2018, including that VBA (1) develop a plan for using its new data system to monitor contractors’ quality and timeliness performance, (2) analyze overall program performance, (3) verify that contracted examiners complete required training, and (4) collect information to assess the effectiveness of that training. VA agreed with and initiated actions on all of these recommendations but has not yet fully implemented them.” Read the full 13-page report here.
Source: VA Disability Exams: Opportunities Remain to Improve Oversight of Contracted Examiners – September 19, 2019. GAO.