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Opening Statement of Hon. Ginny Brown-Waite, Ranking Republican Member, and a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

The Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) recently issued their final report in March 2007 on their analysis of differences in Disability Compensation in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 

This report was completed at the VA’s request to identify and collect data on compensation recipients. 

According to this study, the VA must do three things:

  1. put forth a national effort of consistency of claims processing,
  2. make certain that raters receive consistent training on a national basis, and,
  3. collect and maintain valid data to analyze national statistics and trends. 

I am interested in hearing from Mr. Aument on how the VBA plans to implement these recommendations.

It is apparent that VBA must take steps to improve training and modernize its ratings system. 

Whether a veteran’s claim is rated at the St. Petersburg VA Regional Office, or the Phoenix VA Regional Office, the same standard must be applied when making a rating decision on the claim.

I would like to bring to your attention a bill I have cosponsored with my colleague, Mr. Lamborn, H.R. 3047, the Veterans Claims Processing Innovation Act of 2007. 

This legislation would improve the veterans’ claims processing system at VA by changing the work credit system for VA. 

To do this, the measure establishes a fully electronic system pilot to streamline the claims process.   

H.R. 3047 also requires the VA to have an independent organization certify the effectiveness of VBA’s training programs, and allow family members of veterans who have passed away to continue the original claim instead of forcing the dependents to start the claims filing over. 

I hope that this legislation will pass the Committee before the end of this Congress, and will be considered on the House floor.

I look forward to hearing more from our witnesses today, and yield back the balance of my time.