Opening Statement of Honorable Mark Takano, Ranking Minority Member
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Good morning, I would like to thank everyone for joining us today and I would like to thank our witnesses for taking time to testify and answer our questions.
Mr. Flores, congratulations on being the new EO Chairman. I look forward to working with you to help our veterans and their families across our country. As our country begins to reduce operations in the Middle East and bring more our troops home we will need to have the right programs to address their needs.
We have spent $263 million dollars on the Long Term Solution (LTS) and many questions still remain on the system’s effectiveness, its completion and our return on investment. The system does not process all claims from beginning to end and there is quite of a bit of human intervention necessary to complete claims. When the VA first began processing claims with the Short Term Solution it took about 45 minutes to process an original claim. Years later with millions of dollars spent it takes about the same time to process an original claim. I do not see the anticipated gains that were visualized when VA and SPAWAR came here to our Subcommittee and testified before us. As always we are open to ideas on how to improve this custom designed system.
Besides the cost and problems with the LTS we need to know where completion of the LTS ranks for VA. Is the LTS first on their IT priority list or has this now tumbled to bottom of the list? I hope VA came prepared today to discuss where they are in completing the LTS and what will be the remaining cost. I know Congress has made some changes to the GI Bill that required VA to pivot from their original plan to accommodate mid-stream changes. I would like to know the impact of these Congressional changes so that we have a complete picture of what has transpired since we began working on the LTS.
The colleges and universities are reporting a number of issues with the system. I know that off-ramp problems have been an issue and there may be a simple solution to address the over 80 reasons that off-ramps occur. I look forward to what NAVPA has to say and how we can streamline payments to the colleges. I hope that we can figure out how we can streamline and improve functionality of LTS that is so fundamental to veterans for their education. This was the promise of the Act to them when it became law under Public Law 110-252 and it is our priority now as Members of this Subcommittee.
I remain very interested to hear from the VA the details about how the provisions that have been implemented are performing, and how soon additional functionality will be implemented and what that will mean for processing times and improved services for veterans.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for scheduling this hearing. I look forward to the testimony and discussion we will have today.