Report Summary

Title: Inconsistent Human Resources Practices Inhibit Staffing and Vacancy Transparency
Report Number: 20-00541-133 Download
Issue Date: 6/10/2021
VA Office: Office of the Secretary
Report Author: Office of Audits and Evaluations
Report Type: Review
Release Type: Unrestricted

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviewed how underlying human resources processes affect VA’s reporting of staffing and vacancy data on its public website. The VA MISSION Act of 2018 requires VA to release this information quarterly. The law also requires the OIG to review the website periodically and recommend improvements.

In this third annual report, the OIG found VA has acted to address longstanding data integrity concerns with its system for reported staffing and vacancy information. However, VA continues to experience challenges reconciling its position data. For example, both the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the Veterans Benefits Administration reported discrepancies between the actual number of vacant positions and the corresponding inventory in the system.

The OIG identified opportunities for VA to improve the transparency and governance of HR Smart’s data, and thus improve the quality of reported information. Standardized guidance for position management and a perpetual oversight mechanism would also ensure data were consistently created, properly maintained, and continually reviewed.

The OIG also found VHA human resources practices affected the transparency of staffing and vacancy data. VHA delegated much of its data reconciliation to its local facilities, which introduced variability in the process and did not allow for consistent creation, maintenance, and verification of information. VHA also had inadequate business processes to ensure quality data were available to support effective medical facility staffing oversight.

Without consistent methods and reliable source documents for managing information, VHA cannot be sure HR Smart data accurately reflect VA’s budget and workload requirements.

The OIG recommended examining and validating HR Smart inventory data, establishing standards to ensure positions are consistently approved, created, and maintained, and regularly monitoring position management. The OIG also recommended implementing policy and procedures for staffing level approvals and publishing detailed guidance establishing authoritative position management documents.