Report Summary

Title: Audit of Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Monthly Housing Allowance and Book Stipend Payments
Report Link: http://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-13-01452-214.pdf
Report Number: 13-01452-214
Issue Date: 7/11/2014
City/State: Buffalo, NY
Decatur, GA
VA Office: Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)
Report Author: Office of Audits and Evaluations
Report Type: Audits, Reviews & Evaluations
Release Type: Unrestricted
Summary: OIG evaluated the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) management of Post-9/11 G.I. Bill monthly housing allowance and book stipend payments. We performed this audit due to the size of the program and the financial risks associated with benefits delivery. During calendar year 2013, VBA paid about $5.4 billion in housing allowances and book stipends to approximately 789,000 students. Our review of 200 students found that 92 (46 percent) experienced processing delays in the approval of their original claims, and 35 (18 percent) students experienced payment processing delays in their housing allowance and book stipends. Fifteen of the 35 students received about $32,000 in payments an average of 73 days after the start of their school terms. In addition, 39 (20 percent) students received 125 improper payments valued at approximately $128,000 and 8 students received about $2,400 in book stipends that were not recovered after the students withdrew from courses. Thus, we estimated students annually experience about $60.8 million in payment processing delays and receive about $41 million in improper or inaccurate payments. Over the next 5 years, we estimated that students could experience about $205 million in inaccurate payments if Post-9/11 G.I. Bill claims processing controls are not strengthened. We recommended the Under Secretary for Benefits provide veterans additional information on educational benefits and the requirement to relinquish other education benefits before the submission of applications, and establish a timeliness standard for the submission of enrollment certifications. We also recommended the Under Secretary for Benefits reinforce the need for training and monitoring of school certifying officials, improve monitoring of VBA claims processing staff, address automated claims processing programming issues, reconcile book stipend collection procedures, and collect outstanding improper payments. The Under Secretary for Benefits concurred with our recommendations and provided plans to complete corrective actions by December 31, 2014. We consider the actions acceptable and will follow up on their implementation.