Military Disability System: Improved Monitoring Needed to Better Track and Manage Performance

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Case processing times under the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) have increased over time, and measures of servicemember satisfaction have shortcomings. Since 2008, annual average processing times for IDES cases have steadily climbed, while the percentage of cases meeting established timeliness goals declined. Average case processing times reached 394 and 420 days for active and reserve component members in fiscal year 2011--compared to goals of 295 and 305 days, respectively, and just 19 percent of active duty and 18 percent of guard or reserve servicemembers completed ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. August 28, 2012.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Case processing times under the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) have increased over time, and measures of servicemember satisfaction have shortcomings. Since 2008, annual average processing times for IDES cases have steadily climbed, while the percentage of cases meeting established timeliness goals declined. Average case processing times reached 394 and 420 days for active and reserve component members in fiscal year 2011--compared to goals of 295 and 305 days, respectively, and just 19 percent of active duty and 18 percent of guard or reserve servicemembers completed the process and received benefits within established goals. Of the four phases comprising IDES, the medical evaluation board phase increasingly fell short of timeliness goals, while the physical evaluation board phase, although meeting goals, was taking increasingly more time to complete. With respect to servicemember satisfaction with the IDES process, GAO found shortcomings in how these data are collected and reported, such as unduly limiting who is eligible to receive a survey and computing average satisfaction scores in a manner that may overstate them. Department of Defense (DOD) officials told GAO they are considering alternatives for gauging satisfaction with the process. DOD and Veterans Affairs (VA) are taking steps to improve IDES performance, but progress to date is uneven and it is too early to assess their overall impact. For example, VA increased resources for completing exams and disability ratings while the Army is hiring additional staff for its medical evaluation boards. VA has met exam timeliness goals in the past several months, but other resources have yet to translate into lower processing times. DOD and VA are pursuing system upgrades so that staff and managers at IDES facilities can better track and manage the progress of servicemembers' cases. IDES officials have been working with the military services to correct case data that were inaccurately entered into VA's IDES tracking system, but have not yet identified a permanent solution to improve the accuracy of data input. Finally, DOD, with VA's assistance, is in the early stages of an in-depth review of the entire IDES process and its supporting IT systems. This effort is intended to improve understanding of how each step contributes to overall processing times and identify opportunities to streamline the process and supporting systems. However, timeframes for completing the review or issuing recommendations have yet to be established."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • August 28, 2012

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Military Disability System: Improved Monitoring Needed to Better Track and Manage Performance, report, August 28, 2012; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc295859/: accessed August 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.