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Technology Modernization Chairman Rosendale During Oversight Hearing on Persistent VA IT Failures: “ has gaps, and veterans are falling into them.”

Today, Rep. Matt Rosendale, (R-Mont.), the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, delivered the following remarks, as prepared, at the start of the Subcommittee’s Oversight Hearing to get answers on VA’s persistent IT failures:


Good afternoon.


The Subcommittee will come to order.


We are here today to examine a pattern of problems with affecting veterans’ benefits claims.


VA aggressively built out over the past five years.


Today, it’s more than a website. It’s a self-service platform for veterans to access the care and benefits they have earned.


I absolutely agree that veterans should be able to manage their health care and benefits online, rather than waiting on hold with a call center to do everything.


But to perform all those functions, now interfaces with most of the systems we have discussed in previous hearings.


Those systems and interfaces have significant bugs, and some of them are simply obsolete. has gaps, and veterans are falling into them.


Nearly 100,000 veterans—that we know of—have been struggling with the bugs to access their benefits.


In some cases these problems have been happening for years, but VA officials only recently discovered and disclosed them.


In January, VA notified the Committee that about 32,000 veterans’ disability compensation claims submitted through the website had been rejected.


This had been happening since 2018.


The website didn’t alert the veterans that an error had happened, so they thought everything was normal.


It took the VA seven months to send letters to notify them.


Then, last month, as the intent to file deadline under the PACT Act was approaching, around 5,600 veterans received error messages when they tried to submit on the website.


VA initially had no idea it was happening.


The veterans notified their local VSOs, and word made its way to the Committee.


Chairman Bost and I urged VA to extend the intent to file deadline in several letters, and Secretary McDonough did so.


VA later determined that about 90 percent of the submissions actually were received by the website, but the error messages created mass confusion.


Finally, three weeks ago, VA disclosed two more problems.


About 900 veterans were unable to access the notice of disagreement form on to appeal denials of their claims.


This went on for about five weeks before being discovered.


On top of that, more than 56,000 veterans’ requests to add or remove dependents on and its predecessor were not processed, causing them to be overpaid and underpaid.


This has been happening all the way back to 2011.


The 56,000 is just an estimate, and the Department is still trying to come up with a plan to address the situation.


Each of these four incidents was somewhat different, but they indicate a troubling pattern.


We are going to get to the bottom of what happened and whether the glitches extend beyond the benefits functions of and into other areas.


This is a situation where the VA is badly in need of independent oversight.


The veterans need to know that our witnesses have thoroughly investigated the extent of the problems—and this is not just the tip of the iceberg.


The impacted veterans also need to hear from VA much more quickly.


Seven months to mail letters to the veterans whose claims were rejected is unacceptable, and the veterans whose dependent updates weren’t processed deserve immediate help.


“When the VA central office gets around to it” just isn’t good enough. is vital, and we need to make sure it’s built on a solid foundation.


I appreciate our witnesses joining us today to discuss how we are going to do that.


With that, I yield to Ranking Member Cherfilus-McCormick for her opening statement.

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