Rep. Lee Leads Hearing on Improving Outdated GI Bill System at VA

September 16, 2020
Press Release

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Washington, D.C. –  Chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, US. Rep. Susie Lee (Nev.-03), led a joint hearing titled "Moving Beyond Patchwork Systems: The Future of Education Services IT." The committee examined the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) plan for modernizing information systems used to process GI Bill benefits claims for student veterans.  

In December 2019, VA provided a demonstration of the current state of the GI Bill processing system to House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (HVAC) members, which immediately raised red flags that the system was outdated and inefficient.  

Rep. Lee led this hearing to examine those inefficiencies and hear directly from VA leadership about the roadmap to improving the GI Bill system and getting veterans the education benefits they deserve: 

“In December of 2019, Ms. Bogue, the executive director of Education Services brought some of her staff to the Hill to provide a demonstration of the current state of GI Bill claims processing to our members and staff.  

“That experience was eye opening, to say the least. The VA claims processors use more than a dozen systems, many of them decades old, toggling back and forth between screens, manually transferring data from one system to the next, and taking and storing screenshots for audit purposes.  

“The inefficiency alone is problematic, not to mention the risk of error in data entry and the impacts of those errors on veterans. Obviously, it’s long past time to modernize these systems.” 

Rep. Lee stressed the importance of accountability on part of VA leadership when it comes to improving the GI Bill system: 

“I have said many times that governance and accountability are crucial to the success of any enterprise-wide IT project. There have been many stories of government IT projects failing and when it comes time for answers, no one knows who is accountable. 

“It is crucial that we know who the accountable official is on this project and that we have a thorough understanding of the planned governance structure, and the respective roles of the Veterans Benefits Administration, Education Services, and the Office of Information and Technology in that structure.

“Transparency and accountability are very important as we discuss the possibility of spending $250 million in taxpayer dollars that were intended for another purpose.” 

BACKGROUND: Rep. Lee has helped lead the charge in Congress to improve and expand GI Bill benefits for veterans: 

  • In March 2020, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Rep. Lee helped introduced the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act to help hundreds of thousands of student veterans still at risk of losing out on important GI Bill, work study, and housing benefits. In April 2020, this bill was signed into law by President Trump. 
     
  • In October 2019, Rep. Lee introduced the bipartisan Student Veteran Protection Act, which would change how GI Bill overpayments are reimbursed by making schools, not student veterans, responsible for reimbursing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for GI Bill overpayments. In November 2019, this bill passed the House of Representatives. 
     
  • In May 2019, Rep. Lee introduced the bipartisan Hire Student Veterans Act to help ensure that all student veterans can use their GI Bill benefits to take advantage of valuable paid internships or work opportunities while in school. 
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