Report Summary

Title: Audit of VBA's Veterans' Retraining Assistance Program Participation
Report Number: 12-04524-321
Issue Date: 9/17/2013
VA Office: Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)
Report Author: Office of Audits and Evaluations
Report Type: Audits, Reviews & Evaluations
Release Type: Unrestricted
Summary: We performed this audit to determine whether VBA’s Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) was administered to maximize veterans’ use of the program. Congress passed the Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act authorizing VRAP, in November 2011. As implemented by VA, VRAP offers training assistance to unemployed veterans who are not eligible for any other VA education benefits program. Enrollment for this program expires in March 2014. Early in our audit, we issued an interim report stating that VRAP would not achieve the participant levels authorized by Congress. The Under Secretary for Benefits agreed with our recommendations to accept applications until VBA reached the enrollment limit for this program. This report identifies additional issues since the interim report. We found weak administration of the program allowed veterans to enroll without complying with the program’s full-time attendance requirements, and over half of those veterans inaccurately certified their status as full-time students. We also identified situations where some school officials did not adequately monitor veterans’ academic progress or accurately report enrollment information. In addition, VBA could have better described the penalties for false certifications. VBA also approved one of the schools that did not have appropriate procedures as a training institution. We projected that VBA paid about $12 million to just over 2,300 veterans who were not complying with VRAP attendance requirements. Without increased oversight and controls, VBA risks continuing inappropriate payments to veterans who do not meet full time attendance requirements. We recommended the Under Secretary for Benefits reinforce the schools requirement to monitor veterans’ progress and accurately report enrollments, clarify and establish procedures to manage VRAP, and warn veterans of the penalty for incorrect certifications. If extended beyond March 2014, VBA needs stronger controls to ensure the long-term integrity of the program. The Under Secretary for Benefits concurred with our recommendations and provided plans for corrective actions.