Report Summary

Title: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Oversight Advisory Report Audit of VA’s Implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill Long Term Solution
Report Number: 10-00717-261
Issue Date: 9/30/2010
City/State:
VA Office: Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)
Office of Information and Technology (OIT)
Report Author: Office of Audits and Evaluations
Report Type: Audits, Reviews & Evaluations
Release Type: Unrestricted
Summary: We evaluated the effectiveness of the VA Office of Information and Technology’s (OI&T) plan for LTS deployment, in line with requirements for VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) oversight of Post 9/11 GI Bill implementation. In June 2008, Congress passed the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, Public Law 110-252. Existing systems lacked the capability to administer the necessary complex calculations. As such, VA instituted an Interim Solution even while incrementally developing a Long Term Solution (LTS) to fully automate processing of veterans’ Chapter 33 education benefits by December 31, 2010. We found that OI&T’s plan for LTS deployment has been effective in part. OI&T implemented Release 1 of LTS on schedule in March 2010, but with limited functionality due to unanticipated complexities identified during system development. Release 2 was likewise deployed on time in June 2010, catching up on some of the functionality previously delayed, but still with complex data conversion issues to overcome. We noted that the deployment of LTS Releases 1 and 2 was timely due to OI&T’s strategy to manage the project to schedule, in the absence of processes and tools to effectively manage performance and cost. OI&T applied the new Project Management Accountability System (PMAS) to LTS development to ensure timely deliverables. With this strategy, OI&T has been able to incrementally move LTS forward in automating education benefits processing under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. However, OI&T could improve the effectiveness of future LTS releases by conducting periodic independent reviews and instituting cost controls to help address system development and implementation issues. We recommended that OI&T develop and implement processes and controls to help ensure that future LTS releases achieve performance and cost objectives as well as schedule. The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology concurred with our findings and recommendations and outlined plans to complete all corrective actions by August 2011. We consider these planned actions acceptable and will follow up on their implementation.