Report Summary

Title: Audit of VA's Hearing Aid Services
Report Number: 12-02910-80
Issue Date: 2/20/2014
City/State: Montgomery, AL
Tampa, FL
Lyons, NJ
Palo Alto, CA
Manchester, NH
Tucson, AZ
VA Office: Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
Office of Acquisitions, Logistics, and Construction (OALC)
Report Author: Office of Audits and Evaluations
Report Type: Audits, Reviews & Evaluations
Release Type: Unrestricted
Summary: We conducted this audit to evaluate the effectiveness of VA’s administration of hearing aid order and repair services through VA’s audiology services. Tinnitus and hearing loss were the first and second most prevalent service-connected disabilities for veterans receiving compensation at the end of FY 2012. VA was not timely in issuing new hearing aids to veterans or in meeting its 5-day timeliness goal to complete repair services. During the 6-month period ending September 2012, the Veterans Health Administration issued 30 percent of its hearing aids to veterans more than 30 days from the estimated receipt date from their vendors. Medical facilities’ audiology staff attributed the delays to inadequate staffing to meet an increased workload. In addition, the Denver Acquisition and Logistics Center (DALC) took 17 to 24 days to complete hearing aid repair services, exceeding its 5-day timeliness goal. During this period, 5 of 21 repair technician positions were vacant. These vacancies, and an increased workload, adversely affected DALC’s ability to meet its timeliness goal for hearing aid repairs. We observed and estimated about 19,500 sealed packages of hearing aids were waiting for repair and staff to record the date received into DALC’s production system. According to management, staff did not record the date they received the packages because opening packages had the potential risk of losing small parts. Without a timely recording system, staff cannot adequately respond to veteran and medical facility inquiries. We recommended the Under Secretary for Health develop a plan to implement productivity standards and staffing plans for audiology clinics. Also, we recommended the Principal Executive Director of the Office of Acquisition, Logistics, and Construction ensure DALC determines the appropriate staffing levels for its repair lab and establish controls to timely track and monitor hearing aids for repair. The Under Secretary for Health and Principal Executive Director, Office of Acquisition, Logistics, and Construction concurred with our recommendations.