Report Summary

Title: Outdated Mental Health Policies Should be Published Expeditiously
Report Number: 23-00739-118 Download
Issue Date: 5/4/2023
VA Office: Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
Report Author: Office of Healthcare Inspections
Report Type: Management Advisory Memo
Release Type: Unrestricted

The VA OIG issued a management advisory memorandum to highlight concerns regarding outdated policies governing the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA’s) mental health services and requested follow-up action. Two policies cited in the memorandum, VHA Handbook 1160.01(1), Uniform Mental Health Services in VA Medical Centers and Clinics, and VHA Handbook 1160.06, Inpatient Mental Health Services, are beyond expected recertification dates by almost 10 and 5 years, respectively. In lieu of recertifying policies, VHA has issued operational memoranda, which was cited as a concern by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), resulting in VA’s placement on GAO’s high risk List. Additionally, outdated policies may impact the quality of care veterans receive and create challenges for oversight. The Under Secretary for Health is responsible for ensuring VHA compliance with policy management requirements. VHA advised it expects to issue updated handbooks by September 2023. The OIG will continually monitor VHA’s progress through final publication.

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