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Veterans Affairs Gave Away $2.2B In Mistaken Payments

12:07 AM, Mar 30, 2013   |    comments
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Delays and isarray at the Department of Veterans Affairs are well documented.

As the agency attempts to improve services, an internal report that shows that last year the V.A. gave away $2.2 billion dollars in mistaken payments, accounting for 3.4% of all money given out.

That percentage is actually up from the previous year, when 2.6% of total payments were errors. It's a reflection of a bigger problem, says Senator John Mccain.

"Not only is money given to people who don't deserve it, but payments are not made to people who do deserve it. it's really a national shame the performance of the veterans administration."

The V.A. has promised its new, upgraded computer system will streamline the benefits process and eliminate delays by the year 2015. But McCain is demanding more accountability now.

"It requires congressional oversight and serious congressional oversight."

There is an oversight system in place within the V.A. each year the department's inspector general reports whether the V.A. is in compliance with improper payment laws.

Friday's report showed the V.A. failed in four of the seven legal requirements.

In his latest report to congress in November, V.A. Director Eric Shinseki remained optimistic, writing, "our work continues on the key challenges facing the department we will continue to improve the quality of our programs and service delivery, optimize our efficiency, and exceed the expectations of veterans, their families, and survivors."

It's clear that while some progress has been made, the veterans community, and lawmakers, are still waiting to see evidence of real reform.

The V.A. insists it is making progress. They point out that the costs of erroneous payments dropped in 2012 by 200 million dollars even though the percentage of mistakes went up.

And in case you're wondering about whether the V.A. is able to recover any of the mistaken payments sent out, last year it got back a small fraction-- less than one percent of the erroneous payments.

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