The VBA missed a deadline to implement a new benefit system in August, and now that it looks like the agency won’t be ready for the spring semester either, lawmakers wanted to know why.
The VA is shortening the time it takes for student veterans to get the payments they need to attend school through the G.I. bill. Lawmakers still think the time is too long, however.
The Office of Personnel Management recently released a long-awaited report on official time for fiscal 2014. It found agencies used slightly more official time that year than fiscal 2012, the last time OPM completed a governmentwide report on the topic. The report’s release comes as Congress looks to limit federal employees’ official time use.
A new bill that would limit how much time doctors, nurses and other employees at the Veterans Affairs Department could spend on union business has support now from VA itself. The department said having its employees spend 100 percent of their hours on official time is “necessary, reasonable and in the public’s best interest.”
Official time has been a hot topic for House lawmakers this week. A new bill would limit official time for all employees at the Veterans Affairs Department and would set special limits for doctors and other workers involved in direct patient care.
A recent Government Accountability Office report on the Veterans Affairs Department and its employees’ use of official time is renewing a debate among lawmakers: Does official time have a place within agency operations, and how much time is too much?
The Government Accountability Office had some hard truths for the Veterans Affairs Department, which has failed to produce more modern, interoperable IT systems after years of failed pilots and heated congressional hearings. GAO says VA should drop its plans to modernize VistA and find a commercial option instead.