Title: Review of Alleged Data Manipulation at VA Regional Office Honolulu, HI
From Office of Inspector General, Veterans Administration, March 26, 2015
On October 29, 2014, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) received a request from the Director of the Honolulu VA Regional Office (VARO) asking that the OIG assess alleged data manipulation involving a supervisory employee from that office. Specifically, a Honolulu VARO fact-finding initiative revealed a supervisor improperly removed controls from an electronic record used to identify and process claims without taking the appropriate actions. Additionally, results from their fact-finding indicated this supervisor directed staff to disregard Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) policy when processing some claims.
We substantiated the allegation that the supervisor inappropriately removed controls in the electronic record used to track and identify claims related to verifying the status of veterans’ dependents without taking proper actions to complete the claims. We reviewed 139 cases and determined the supervisor inappropriately removed system controls for 100 benefits claims. The supervisor admitted to removing controls from the electronic record but stated it was not his intention to misrepresent data. Further, in one instance, we determined the supervisor instructed VARO staff to disregard VBA policy related to a claim involving recoupment of separation pay.
The actions to remove claims from the electronic record misrepresented the VARO’s claims inventory and timeliness measures, and impaired its ability to measure and manage its workloads. Further, some veterans may have continued to receive additional compensation for dependents that they were not entitled to receive.
The inappropriate actions described in this report undermine program effectiveness. Therefore, we recommended the Honolulu VARO Director take immediate action to correct, as appropriate, all improper actions taken by the supervisor. We also recommended the Director confer with VA Regional Counsel to determine the appropriate administrative action to take, if any, against this employee.
The VARO Director concurred with our recommendations and management’s planned actions are responsive and we will follow up as required. The VARO Director informed us the supervisor that took the improper actions related to dependency claims resigned his position.
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