Details from the IG report on Philadelphia VA
Some of the findings from the 78-page report on problems at a Philadelphia VA office, released Wednesday:
• Despite being told in 2014 of 68 boxes of completed claims waiting to be scanned in -- a backlog that began in 2010 -- the review team never followed up. Wednesday’s report revealed documents still sitting in bins, which could affect the accuracy of benefits and entitlement decisions.
• More than 31,000 inquiries remained unanswered for an average of 312 days. VA policy requires response within five days.
• About 22,000 items of returned mail were found, unprocessed. The mail was received between August 2010 and February 2013.
• About 6,400 documents, categorized as unidentifiable military mail, could be identified using information in VBA systems. The report cited “lapses in management oversight and a general lack of accountability for ensuring proper screening of military mail.”
• VARO management did not ensure that all veteran-specific documents or source material in direct support of VBA’s claims processing was placed in veterans’ claims folders. About 14,675 pieces of unprocessed “drop mail” -- received from March 2011 to June 2014 -- was found in 37 boxes and bins.
• Veteran and employee documents containing personal information were not adequately protected. In one instance, unprotected documents were found in an office attached to a kitchen accessible to other building occupants. Improper storage “may have compromised the personal information of some veterans and employees.”
• A quality-control worker doctored claims to fix errors in more than half of the forms reviewed by investigators. According to Wednesday’s report, managers were aware of the alterations and did nothing.
• Investigators said duplicate records -- where some vets were paid twice -- amounted to $2.2 million spent on unnecessary benefits.