VA Benefits: Improvements Needed to Ensure Claimants Receive Appropriate Representation

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Office of General Counsel (OGC) procedures do not sufficiently ensure that accredited representatives have good character and knowledge. While GAO's analysis shows that VA follows its procedures for reviewing initial accreditation applications, VA relies on limited self-reported information to determine whether applicants have a criminal history or their character could be called into question, which in turn leaves VA vulnerable to accrediting individuals who may not provide responsible assistance. For example, when GAO conducted additional checks on a non-representative sample ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. August 1, 2013.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Office of General Counsel (OGC) procedures do not sufficiently ensure that accredited representatives have good character and knowledge. While GAO's analysis shows that VA follows its procedures for reviewing initial accreditation applications, VA relies on limited self-reported information to determine whether applicants have a criminal history or their character could be called into question, which in turn leaves VA vulnerable to accrediting individuals who may not provide responsible assistance. For example, when GAO conducted additional checks on a non-representative sample of accredited individuals, GAO found that some individuals had histories of bankruptcies or liens, information which could help develop a more complete picture of applicants' character and prompt further inquiry by VA into their background. VA's procedures also do not ensure that representatives have adequate program knowledge. For example, VA's initial training requirements are minimal and VA does not consistently monitor whether representatives meet additional continuing education requirements. As a result, some accredited representatives may not have adequate program knowledge to effectively assist clients with their claims. After being briefed on GAO's findings in May 2013, VA's OGC announced plans to take additional steps toward conducting background checks on applicants and auditing ongoing character and training requirements."

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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 1, 2013

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. VA Benefits: Improvements Needed to Ensure Claimants Receive Appropriate Representation, report, August 1, 2013; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc297505/: accessed October 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.