Report Summary

Title: Staff Did Not Limit the Use of Schools and Training Programs That Were Only Approved for the Veteran Readiness and Employment Program
Report Number: 22-02293-188 Download
Issue Date: 9/14/2023
VA Office: Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA)
Report Author: Office of Audits and Evaluations
Report Type: Audit
Release Type: Unrestricted

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted this audit to determine whether the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Veteran Readiness and Employment Service (VR&E) properly approved and monitored participants’ use of Chapter 31–only programs, which assist veterans who have service-connected disabilities that limit employment opportunities. By law, these programs may only be used when approved GI Bill programs are insufficient to meet a veteran’s unique training needs.

The OIG found that VR&E did not properly implement a December 2016 law that required individual waivers from the VR&E executive director each time a Chapter 31–only program was selected for a participant. This was because VR&E did not correctly interpret the law. Consequently, VR&E did not issue these veteran-specific waivers and did not implement controls to provide the necessary oversight to limit these programs to veterans with the requisite needs. Further, VR&E did not complete compliance surveys for Chapter 31–only programs, though the law and VR&E’s manual require them. The OIG determined that VA paid over $13 million in questioned costs for these programs that likely would not have received those funds had VR&E limited use of the programs.

After the OIG presented its findings, VR&E took steps to remedy these issues, such as issuing new guidance to require approved GI Bill programs to the maximum extent possible or approve each participant individually, ensure proper documentation of decisions, develop training, and update the manual to clarify when these programs may be used.

VA concurred with the OIG’s five recommendations to ensure VR&E understands the laws and regulations that govern Chapter 31–only programs, trains all staff on waivers and compliance surveys, reviews and updates the manual as needed, and develops a monitoring process. Two recommendations have been closed as implemented based on VA-submitted documentation.

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