FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 12, 2016

Contact:
Chelsea Bland
(202) 777-3079
blandc@afge.org

VA Employees' Union Outlines Progress

Categories: VA

Calls for adequate staffing and more opportunities for employee feedback to eliminate backlog

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today submitted a statement for the record for a House Committee on Veterans' Affairs hearing regarding the Veterans Benefits Administration's (VBA) claims processing system. 

AFGE's testimony focused on results from a survey the union conducted in the fall of 2015 to assess employees' views of the newly implemented processing system. Nearly 200 VBA employees from 26 different facilities provided feedback on the functionality of the system and the need for improvements to enhance the benefit services for our nation's veterans. 

The survey showed that employees believe that the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) has improved since its 2013 launch, with 83 percent of respondents citing improvement. The survey also yielded hundreds of suggestions from AFGE members for making benefit processing more efficient. Key suggestions centered around workflow, reducing delays in the system and increased functionality to process appeals and complex cases. 

"AFGE members are justifiably proud of their contributions to reducing the disability claims backlog," adds AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. "To eliminate the backlog and make sure another one does not emerge, Congress and VBA must engage with AFGE and follow up on at least some of the excellent suggestions for system improvements provided by frontline employees who use the system every day. Congress must do its part and fund enough claims processors to get the job done for our veterans." 

Adequate funding to properly staff regional offices is critical to having the kind of system that is able to handle VBA’s workload. Congress must ensure the agency has the resources it needs to implement critical system improvements and to permanently eliminate the backlog. 

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