Report Charts VA's Progress in Services to Veterans

Apr 04, 2001, 01:00 ET from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

    WASHINGTON, April 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Improvements in a wide variety of
 services to veterans are documented in the "Annual Performance Report FY 2000"
 by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
     More than 3.8 million patients used VA health care, over 2.6 million
 veterans and family members received monthly VA disability compensation
 payments, and nearly 2.4 million graves were maintained at our national
 cemeteries.
     "We set challenging standards for our employees and our programs,"
 Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi said.  "Behind each
 statistic in this report are success stories like the disabled veteran with
 new job skills acquired in an expanding vocational rehabilitation program, or
 health care that allows us to treat the suffering of more veterans than the
 year before."
     VA scored gains in indicators like the use of nationally recognized
 treatment guidelines and decreased waiting times for patients, but the report
 also documents continuing problems with timely decisions on compensation and
 pension claims.  While benefit processing lagged, the chance of a veteran
 getting a busy signal when calling a benefits office was down dramatically,
 and there was an 8.5 percent improvement in the overall length of time it
 takes VA to handle all types of appeals.
     An increasing share of respondents rated the quality of service provided
 by national cemeteries as "excellent."  With the opening of three new national
 cemeteries and four new state veterans cemeteries, the percent of veterans
 with one of these cemeteries within a reasonable distance of their homes
 continued to grow.
     The VA Performance Report is submitted to the President and Congress
 annually under the Government Performance and Results Act.  Of 116 performance
 goals set at the start of the fiscal year, VA met 53 percent of the goals for
 which it had data.  For another 22 percent, performance was equal to or better
 than that recorded the previous year.
     For example, in reducing appeals resolution time, the goal was an average
 of 670 days.  While VA missed that target by 12 days (ending the year with an
 average of 682), this performance reflects a reduction of 63 days from its FY
 1999 performance.
     For the development and rating of the most complicated and time-consuming
 types of compensation and pension claims, VA's average processing time was 173
 days.  VA cited new legislation and complex regulatory changes in not
 realizing its target of a 160-day average.  The report predicts the situation
 will worsen this year due to these two factors.
     In health care, VA patients indicated a high level of satisfaction with
 both inpatient and outpatient services and, for the second year in a row,
 patients' satisfaction with VA outpatient care ranked above outpatient care
 offered by private-sector hospitals.
     In addition to treating more patients and increasing the number of
 facilities providing health care, the cost of care continued to decline.
     VA's medical research benefits not only veterans but also the nation as a
 whole and the international community.  Many modern technologies -- including
 the cardiac pacemaker, the CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging and drug
 therapy for the mentally ill -- have their roots in VA research.
     A copy of the Performance Report is available on VA's Web site at
 http://www.va.gov/budget/report/index.htm .
 
 

SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
    WASHINGTON, April 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Improvements in a wide variety of
 services to veterans are documented in the "Annual Performance Report FY 2000"
 by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
     More than 3.8 million patients used VA health care, over 2.6 million
 veterans and family members received monthly VA disability compensation
 payments, and nearly 2.4 million graves were maintained at our national
 cemeteries.
     "We set challenging standards for our employees and our programs,"
 Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi said.  "Behind each
 statistic in this report are success stories like the disabled veteran with
 new job skills acquired in an expanding vocational rehabilitation program, or
 health care that allows us to treat the suffering of more veterans than the
 year before."
     VA scored gains in indicators like the use of nationally recognized
 treatment guidelines and decreased waiting times for patients, but the report
 also documents continuing problems with timely decisions on compensation and
 pension claims.  While benefit processing lagged, the chance of a veteran
 getting a busy signal when calling a benefits office was down dramatically,
 and there was an 8.5 percent improvement in the overall length of time it
 takes VA to handle all types of appeals.
     An increasing share of respondents rated the quality of service provided
 by national cemeteries as "excellent."  With the opening of three new national
 cemeteries and four new state veterans cemeteries, the percent of veterans
 with one of these cemeteries within a reasonable distance of their homes
 continued to grow.
     The VA Performance Report is submitted to the President and Congress
 annually under the Government Performance and Results Act.  Of 116 performance
 goals set at the start of the fiscal year, VA met 53 percent of the goals for
 which it had data.  For another 22 percent, performance was equal to or better
 than that recorded the previous year.
     For example, in reducing appeals resolution time, the goal was an average
 of 670 days.  While VA missed that target by 12 days (ending the year with an
 average of 682), this performance reflects a reduction of 63 days from its FY
 1999 performance.
     For the development and rating of the most complicated and time-consuming
 types of compensation and pension claims, VA's average processing time was 173
 days.  VA cited new legislation and complex regulatory changes in not
 realizing its target of a 160-day average.  The report predicts the situation
 will worsen this year due to these two factors.
     In health care, VA patients indicated a high level of satisfaction with
 both inpatient and outpatient services and, for the second year in a row,
 patients' satisfaction with VA outpatient care ranked above outpatient care
 offered by private-sector hospitals.
     In addition to treating more patients and increasing the number of
 facilities providing health care, the cost of care continued to decline.
     VA's medical research benefits not only veterans but also the nation as a
 whole and the international community.  Many modern technologies -- including
 the cardiac pacemaker, the CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging and drug
 therapy for the mentally ill -- have their roots in VA research.
     A copy of the Performance Report is available on VA's Web site at
 http://www.va.gov/budget/report/index.htm .
 
 SOURCE  U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs