Report 2009-108 All Recommendation Responses

Report 2009-108: California Department of Veterans Affairs: Although It Has Begun to Increase Its Outreach Efforts and to Coordinate With Other Entities, It Needs to Improve Its Strategic Planning Process, and Its CalVet Home Loan Program Is Not Designed to Address the Housing Needs of Some Veterans (Release Date: October 2009)

Recommendation #1 To: Veterans Affairs, Department of

To ensure that it has the information necessary to track progress in increasing veterans' participation in C&P benefits, and to identify where and how best to focus its outreach and coordination efforts, Veterans Services should require the CVSOs to submit information on the number of claims filed for C&P benefits and information on their outreach activities.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2016

The proposed rulemaking was approved by the Office of Administrative Law and made effective on October 1, 2016. The regulations were distributed to all County Veterans Service Officers and discussed with all 56 participating counties at a CalVet sanctioned training conference on October 10, 2016.

  • Completion Date: October 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From June 2016

The proposed regulations requiring CVSOs to submit the number of claims filed for C&P benefits as well as outreach activities are in their final stages of Office of Administrative Law approval. The final rulemaking file will be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law in August 2016. The regulations should become effective per the regular rulemaking calendar on October 1, 2016.

  • Estimated Completion Date: October 1, 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From January 2016

Proposed regulations requiring CVSOs to submit the number of claims filed for C&P benefits as well as outreach activities metrics were submitted to the Office of Administrative Law on October 30, 2015. The 45-day public comment period ended on December 28, 2015. Comments were received and are under review. CalVet has one year to finalize the regulations through the regular rulemaking process.

  • Estimated Completion Date: October 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From September 2015

CalVet has fully implemented the VetPro system to address this recommendation. All 57 counties with County Veteran Service Offices and the three Veteran Services Division District Offices have converted to VetPro (previously referred to as SAIS/SAIM).

All CVSOs enter the number of compensation and pension (C&P) claims filed by their county into VetPro in order to receive state subvention funding for those claims. VetPro gives CalVet the ability to expand its supervision of the claim activity down to the individual veteran representative filing the claim. CalVet is also able to track the number of workload and outreach activities reported by each CVSO. By October 31, 2015, CalVet will be submitting proposed regulations to require CVSOs to report outreach metrics through VetPro.

  • Estimated Completion Date: July 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2013

CalVet has fully implemented the Subvention Accounting Information System (SAIS) to address this recommendation. All 56 counties with County Veteran Service Offices and the three Veteran Services Division District Offices have converted to SAIS.

The SAIS gives CalVet the ability to expand its supervision of the claim activity down to the individual veteran representative filing the claim. CalVet is able to identify the quantity, quality and success rate of the claims being filed at the county level. This also allows CalVet to influence the quality of the claims and track outreach activities. In addition, this automated process will allow both CalVet and the counties to implement new changes from the VA systematically, which will reduce the training and lag time in getting these changes to the field. CalVet is also able to track the number of workload activities reported by each CVSO to provide a metric to track progress in increasing veterans' participation in C&P benefits.

  • Completion Date: April 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented

In its response regarding the status of its implementation of this recommendation after the state auditor's report was published, CalVet asserted that it had fully implemented this recommendation. Based on our review of documentation provided by CalVet at that time, we assessed the recommendation as fully implemented. However, during a follow-up audit, which entailed a more in-depth review of actions CalVet has taken to address this recommendation, we found that CalVet has not fully implemented the recommendation. The state auditor issued its follow-up audit titled Follow-Up—California Department of Veterans Affairs: Better Collection and Use of Data Would Improve Its Outreach Efforts, and It Needs to Strengthen Its Oversight of County Veterans Service Officer Programs (Report 2015-505), in July 2015.


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From September 2012

CalVet is continuing to implement the Subvention Accounting Information System (SAIS) to address this recommendation.

As previously reported, an MOU was executed with the vendor for the SAIS software implementation. To date 50 out of 56 counties with CVSOs and the 3 Veterans Services Division District Offices have converted to SAIS. There are 2 additional counties currently in the implementation process. Those counties should be fully implemented by December 2012. The remaining counties have yet to make decisions regarding the transition. CalVet is unable to make this conversion mandatory as that would invoke state mandated local program statutes requiring CalVet to reimburse counties for the use of the software.

The SAIS gives CalVet the ability to expand its supervision of the claim activity right down to the individual veteran representative filing the claim. CalVet will be able to identify the quantity, quality and success rate of the claims being filed at the county level. This will also allow CalVet to influence the quality of the claims and track outreach activities. In addition, this automated process will allow both CalVet and the counties to implement new changes from the VA systematically, which will reduce the training and lag time in getting these changes to the field.

In the interim, “claims initiated” data is collected on the semi-annual subvention workload unit reports (DVS-16) and is being tracked.

CalVet has also recently implemented changes in its subvention distribution process to incentivize those claims activities associated with monetary (i.e. primarily C&P) benefits by increasing the number of workload units associated with successful claims and eliminating credit for non-monetary activities. Due to these changes the number of workload activities reported by each CVSO will provide a surrogate metric to track progress in increasing veterans' participation in C&P benefits.

  • Estimated Completion Date: Summer 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented


Recommendation #2 To: Veterans Affairs, Department of

As Veterans Services expands its efforts to increase veterans' participation in C&P benefits, it should use veterans' demographic information, such as that available through the U.S. Census Bureau, and the information it plans to obtain from the CVSOs using its SAIM system, to focus its outreach and coordination efforts on those counties with the highest potential for increasing the State's rate of participation in C&P benefits.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From July 2016

CalVet audited claims submissions through its VetPro system (formerly SAIM), and compared the number of claims workload units produced by each CVSO to the veteran population of that county as an indication of the productivity of a CVSO (Annex 1). Los Angeles was identified as a county that has the highest potential for increasing the number of C&P claims filed. As a result, CalVet provided two in-person, general trainings on C&P claims with the managers and staff at the L.A. CVSO, as well as one training focused on CalVet's College Fee Waiver program. In addition, CalVet coordinated with the president of the California Association of County Veterans Service Officers (CACVSO) to provide on-site assistance to the L.A. CVSO in June 2016. CalVet and CACVSO are coordinating a new mentorship program to new and underperforming CVSOs (based on their FY 14-15 workload unit production). Since January 2016, this mentorship program has enabled a successful CVSO to visit and provide training to three new and six under-performing CVSOs. In August 2016, CalVet will obtain updated data on C&P claims, and based on analysis of this data, will meet with low-performing CVSOs to develop training plans and develop focused outreach initiatives, such as claims fairs, to increase C&P rates.

  • Completion Date: January 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From January 2016

CalVet VSD has compiled U.S. Census-derived data from USDVA, and the most recent annual reporting of CVSO Workload Units, focusing specifically on Auditable Claims filed by County. This report used data derived from USDVA (VetPop) and workload estimates reported by CVSOs via the VetPro system (incorporating data that was reported via the SAIM system during past audit queries). CalVet VSD was able to determine which counties have the highest potential for increasing the State's C&P participation rates.

See the attached report, CA C&P Claims Participation and FY14-15 Filings by County, for detailed statistical analysis of this issue, and CalVet VSD Narrative Details to BSA 2009-108 Response for detailed narratives of analysis outcomes and action plans to focus outreach efforts for successful growth in the State's C&P participation rates.

  • Estimated Completion Date: December 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From September 2015

CalVet continues to gather demographic information and conduct needs assessments to target outreach through a variety of channels including the Geographic Distribution of Expenditures report, County Veterans Services Office (CVSO) Subvention Reports, and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs VetPop data, while continuing to connect veterans and their families with services and benefits through ongoing strategies and partnerships. CalVet understands the significance of the myCalVet site and its potential to supply information statewide in an ongoing and cost effective way. By December 31, 2015, CalVet will develop a marketing plan to use CalVet website data to target outreach to regions where veterans have not created profiles at the same rate as others. By October 31, 2015, CalVet will be submitting proposed regulations to require CVSOs to report outreach metrics through VetPro. Once the regulations are established, CVSO outreach metrics will be tracked through the statewide claims case management system, VetPro.

  • Estimated Completion Date: December 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2013

At the time the report was written, CalVet was anticipating expansion of resources available for outreach and the report's recommendation was reasonably implementable. In fact, immediately following publication of the report CalVet had budget change proposals approved by the Legislature which include new outreach funding. That new funding was to be distributed under a grant structure with criteria that fully implemented this recommendation. Since that time CalVet's funding for outreach was eliminated due to the State's budget crisis.

Recognizing that we must continue to perform the outreach mission despite the cuts in dedicated resources, CalVet is implementing technology efforts that are intended to supplement resource intensive outreach efforts. These technology based efforts are implemented without geographic constraints. The two major efforts are deployment of smart phone mobile applications (apps) and establishing a one-stop, veteran centric portal (CalVet Connect).

While CalVet is continuing efforts to expand outreach services throughout the state, no new resources have been allocated to-date. The recommendation remains valid in the context of obtaining and allocating future new resources to fulfill the need to increase outreach to veterans using veteran demographic information and the SAIS system. CalVet will implement it when those new resources become available; unfortunately, it is unknown when we will be obtaining new resources

  • Completion Date: October 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented

In its response regarding the status of its implementation of this recommendation after the state auditor's report was published, CalVet asserted that it had fully implemented this recommendation. Based on our review of documentation provided by CalVet at that time, we assessed the recommendation as fully implemented. However, during a follow-up audit, which entailed a more in-depth review of actions CalVet has taken to address this recommendation, we found that CalVet has not fully implemented the recommendation. The state auditor issued its follow-up audit titled Follow-Up—California Department of Veterans Affairs: Better Collection and Use of Data Would Improve Its Outreach Efforts, and It Needs to Strengthen Its Oversight of County Veterans Service Officer Programs (Report 2015-505), in July 2015.


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From September 2012

At the time the report was written CalVet was anticipating expansion of resources available for outreach and the report's recommendation was reasonably implementable. In fact, immediately following publication of the report CalVet had budget change proposals approved by the Legislature which include new outreach funding. That new funding was to be distributed under a grant structure with criteria that fully implemented this recommendation. Since that time CalVet's funding for outreach was eliminated due to the State's budget crisis.

Recognizing that we must continue to perform the outreach mission despite the cuts in dedicated resources, CalVet is implementing cost neutral technology efforts that are intended to replace resource intensive outreach efforts. These technology based efforts are implemented without geographic constraints. The two major efforts are deployment of smart phone mobile applications (apps) and establishing a one-stop, veteran centric portal (CalVet Connect).

While CalVet is examining potential redirection of its limited existing resources those resources primarily consist of filled positions. Redirection becomes complicated in those cases by issues associated with voluntary/involuntary transfers and the associated costs. The most promising opportunity for redirection is when positions become vacant; in fact CalVet is currently examining potential redirection of one LINC position that became vacant recently.

The recommendation remains valid in the context of allocating future new resources and CalVet will implement it when those new resources become available; unfortunately we do not anticipate obtaining new resources any time in the near to mid-term future.

  • Estimated Completion Date: Unknown

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented


Recommendation #3 To: Veterans Affairs, Department of

Veterans Services should continue its efforts to pursue the SAIM system to enable it to monitor the quantity and quality of claims processed by the CVSOs, and ensure it meets legal requirements regarding auditing CVSO workload reports and verifying the appropriateness of college fee waivers. To the extent that Veterans Services is unsuccessful in implementing the SAIM system, the department will need to develop other avenues by which to meet its legal requirements.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From January 2016

CalVet has fully implemented the Subvention Accounting Information System (SAIS, named VetPro) to address this recommendation. All County Veteran Service Offices and the three Veteran Services Division District Offices have converted to VetPro.

VetPro gives CalVet the ability to expand its supervision of the claim activity down to the individual veteran representative filing the claim. CalVet is able to identify the quantity, quality and success rate of the claims being filed at the county level. This also allows CalVet to influence the quality of the claims and track outreach activities. In addition, this automated process will allow both CalVet and the counties to implement new changes from the VA systematically, which will reduce the training and lag time in getting these changes to the field. CalVet is also able to track the number of workload activities reported by each CVSO to provide a metric to track progress in increasing veterans' participation in C&P benefits.

CalVet monitors the quantity and quality of the CVSO claims through VetPro and the CalVet CVSO Auditor. The CalVet audit of the CVSO claims activities and verification of the appropriateness of college fee waivers fully meets legal requirements. The Veteran Services CVSO Auditor follows a very thorough and standardized procedure that has been solidified in a desk reference manual (completed December 23, 2015). The standardized audit process includes validation of the documents that are the basis of the workload activity reports including official forms and documents submitted for Subvention and Medi-Cal Cost Avoidance funding, as well as performing annual sample audits of both college fee waivers and other claims submitted by CVSOs for adherence to laws, policies, and procedures.

  • Completion Date: December 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From September 2015

CalVet has fully implemented the Subvention Accounting Information System (SAIS/SAIM) called VetPro to address this recommendation. All 57 counties with County Veteran Service Offices and the three Veteran Services Division District Offices have converted to VetPro.

VetPro gives CalVet the ability to expand its supervision of the claim activity down to the individual veteran representative filing the claim. This allows CalVet to properly audit workload units for subvention funding, influence the quality of the claims, and track outreach activities. In addition, this automated process will allow both CalVet and the counties to implement new changes from the VA systematically, which will reduce the training and lag time in getting these changes to the field.

The CalVet CVSO Auditor is currently implementing procedures for the audit functions to include periodic reviews of CVSO claims activities and College Fee Waiver Program. Written desk procedures for these processes will be completed by December 31, 2015. District Office staff continue to provide regular training and feedback to CVSOs including feedback on corrections made to incoming claims on a monthly basis, and will continue to provide training to all CVSOs at three training conferences each year.

  • Estimated Completion Date: December 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2013

(Note: While the BSA Report refers to this project as the SAIM, the official project title in the final FSR was revised to the Subvention Administration Information System (SAIS). To ensure consistency with other documents on the project the Department will only be referring to this project by the official title submitted in the FSR/RER)

CalVet completed the sponsored deployment of the Subvention Accounting Information System (SAIS) by arranging through the budget process for funding to offset most of the counties' implementation costs. CalVet also obtained the funding authority to offset participating counties' costs for ongoing operations and maintenance.

CalVet is now able to remotely perform audit functions for the counties that have implemented SAIS and is enhancing its audit capabilities by customizing logical functions in VetProWeb to provide additional automated reports to specifically identify workload reporting errors including duplicative college fee waiver issues. Additionally, because VetProWeb supports paperless claim files CalVet is now able to perform detailed review of case files in support of its audit functions.

  • Completion Date: March 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented

In its response regarding the status of its implementation of this recommendation after the state auditor's report was published, CalVet asserted that it had fully implemented this recommendation. Based on our review of documentation provided by CalVet at that time, we assessed the recommendation as fully implemented. However, during a follow-up audit, which entailed a more in-depth review of actions CalVet has taken to address this recommendation, we found that CalVet has not fully implemented the recommendation. The state auditor issued its follow-up audit titled Follow-Up—California Department of Veterans Affairs: Better Collection and Use of Data Would Improve Its Outreach Efforts, and It Needs to Strengthen Its Oversight of County Veterans Service Officer Programs (Report 2015-505), in July 2015.


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From September 2012

(Note: While the BSA Report refers to this project as the SAIM, the official project title in the final FSR was revised to the Subvention Administration Information System (SAIS). To ensure consistency with other documents on the project the Department will only be referring to this project by the official title submitted in the FSR/RER)

CalVet is continuing to sponsor deployment of the Subvention Accounting Information System (SAIS) on a voluntary basis. CalVet is unable to make this conversion mandatory as that would invoke state mandated local program statutes requiring CalVet to fully reimburse counties for all implementation and use costs. CalVet has arranged through the budget process for funding to offset most of the counties' implementation costs, and will be seeking authority to fund to offset participating counties' costs for ongoing operations and maintenance.

As previously reported, an MOU was executed with the vendor for the SAIS software implementation. The specific software is known as VetProWeb. To date 50 out of 56 counties with CVSOs and the 3 Veterans Services Division District Offices have converted to SAIS. There are 2 additional counties currently in the implementation process. Those counties should be fully implemented by December 2012. The remaining counties have yet to make decisions regarding the transition.

CalVet is now able to remotely perform audit functions for the counties that have implemented SAIS and is enhancing its audit capabilities by customizing logical functions in VetProWeb to provide additional automated reports to specifically identify workload reporting errors including duplicative college fee waiver issues. Additionally, because VetProWeb supports paperless claim files CalVet is now able to perform detailed review of case files in support of its audit functions. This ability corrects a major shortfall in the audit function.

Full implementation is dependent upon counties agreeing to participate in SAIS; CalVet anticipated having all 56 counties implemented by the close of FY 2011-12. Because implementation is not proceeding at the pace originally envisioned, CalVet is considering regulatory changes that would address its inability to fully audit non-participating counties' records.

  • Estimated Completion Date: June 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented


Recommendation #4 To: Veterans Affairs, Department of

In order to attract more veterans to the CalVet program, the department should continue working with the Federal Housing Administration and the Ginnie Mae to lower its interest rates on loans.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2013

Dept Response: CalVet has successfully completed the restructuring of our outstanding Farm and Home bonds that have enabled us to adjust our interest rates. As such, CalVet's rate is extremely competitive with the commercial market and loan production is up 100% as compared to the same time last year. Further, as we stated before the recommendation is not feasible to implement because FHA will not accept the use of our land sales contract in conjunction with FHA insured mortgage financings and in fact has twice denied our request to for approval.

  • Completion Date: July 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented

CalVet indicated that its continued efforts to work with the FHA were not successful. However, through other means its has successfully lowered its interest rates on loans since Ocober 2009, when the state auditor's report was released.


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From September 2012

The recommendation is not feasible. The department has requested approval from FHA to use our contract of sale (contract used for our loan transactions) with FHA mortgage insurance. FHA has twice denied the use of our land sales contract in conjunction with FHA insured mortgage financing. (attached copy of FHA's second denial)

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Will Not Implement


Recommendation #5 To: Veterans Affairs, Department of

To ensure that Mental Health Services Act funding is used for the purposes intended in its formal agreement with the Department of Mental Health, the department should, before awarding additional funds, enter into formal agreements with the respective CVSOs specifying the allowable uses of these funds.

1-Year Agency Response

The department has entered into formal agreements specifying the allowable uses of Mental Health Services Act funds with the six CVSOs it selected to receive these funds. (2011-406, p. 227)

  • Response Date: October 2010

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #6 To: Veterans Affairs, Department of

The department should ensure that Veterans Services continues to pursue its various initiatives related to gathering veterans’ contact information and increasing veterans’ awareness of the benefits and services available to them. Additionally, the department should pursue efforts to update its Web site to ensure that it contains current, accurate, and useful information for veterans’ reference.

1-Year Agency Response

In its one-year response, the department also reported that Veterans Services is continuing its efforts to gather veterans’ contact information. Specifically, the department stated that in January 2010 it launched Operation Welcome Home, which is the governor’s initiative to help veterans transition to civilian life once their military service ends. The department indicated that this effort formalizes and strengthens the initiatives discussed in the bureau’s audit report to ensure contact information is collected from active duty and veterans attendees at outreach activities such as Transitional Assistance Program classes, Yellow Ribbon Program events, and other outreach events. The department reported that Veterans Services now has approximately 28,000 contacts in its veterans reintegration management system database. The department stated that Operation Welcome Home has formalized the department’s relationship with the Employment Development Department and other state and local agencies to ensure that Veterans Services receives veterans’ contact information. The department explained that Operation Welcome Home uses the veterans’ contact information to make structured personal contact with veterans to assist them in receiving the services and benefits they have earned. Finally, the department has updated its Web site. (2011-406, p. 227)

  • Response Date: October 2010

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #7 To: Veterans Affairs, Department of

The department should ensure that, where appropriate, it enters into formal agreements with the state entities Veterans Services collaborates with to ensure that it and other entities are accountable for the agreed upon services and that these services continue despite staff turnover, changes in agency priorities, or other factors that could erode these efforts.

1-Year Agency Response

The department has established formal agreements with the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Health Care Services, the Department of General Services, the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, the California Volunteers, and the Department of Motor Vehicles. The department reported that Operation Welcome Home established an overarching structure to further solidify the relationships. The department indicated that its implementation of this recommendation will be ongoing as it establishes new working relationships with state and local entities such as the agreement it recently executed with the Department of Motor Vehicles. (2011-406, p. 228)

  • Response Date: October 2010

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #8 To: Veterans Affairs, Department of

To adequately identify the service providers and stakeholders that could assist Veterans Services in its efforts to increase veterans’ awareness of available benefits, the department should ensure that Veterans Services implements a more systematic process for identifying and prioritizing the entities with which it collaborates.

1-Year Agency Response

Veterans Services has developed criteria for identifying and prioritizing the entities with which it collaborates and, according to the department, these criteria were approved by its secretary. The department stated that the high-priority entities are part of the coordinated effort under the auspices of Operation Welcome Home. (2011-406, p. 228)

  • Response Date: October 2010

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #9 To: Veterans Affairs, Department of

To ensure that the federal VA is aware of the barriers veterans face in applying for C&P benefits, such as the complexity of the claims process, the department should continue its efforts, and formalize these efforts as necessary, to communicate these concerns to the federal VA.

1-Year Agency Response

In its one-year response, the department reported that it continues to participate in the more effective and influential efforts with national organizations such as the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs. Additionally, in April 2010, the department sent a letter to the secretary of the federal VA outlining its concerns with the claims process for federal benefits and providing suggestions for change. (2011-406, p. 229)

  • Response Date: October 2010

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #10 To: Veterans Affairs, Department of

To better coordinate efforts to increase the number of veterans applying for C&P benefits, Veterans Services should formally communicate its goals to the CVSOs and work with them to reach some common goals related to serving veterans.

1-Year Agency Response

The department distributed copies of its Strategic Plan to the CVSO community at a training conference in October 2009 and told us that it specifically discussed its goal of increasing veterans’ participation in C&P benefits during a presentation to the CVSOs at this training conference. In January 2010 the department conducted a survey of the CVSOs in the State to determine what the most important needs of veterans are and how services to veterans can be enhanced. The department stated that 87 percent of the CVSOs that responded agreed that Veterans Services’ goal of increasing veterans’ participation in C&P benefits is appropriate. In its one-year response, the department stated that this finding is contrary to the finding reported in the bureau’s audit report. However, the department is mistaken as we did not ask the CVSOs we interviewed whether they believed Veterans Services’ goal of increasing veterans’ participation in C&P benefits is appropriate. Additionally, the department entered into a formal agreement with the California Association of County Veterans Service Officers (association) in December 2009. The agreement is for an indefinite period of time and summarizes agreements reached by the association and the department to establish a process by which both parties may seek input into the development of their respective strategic plans. In the agreement, both parties recognized that neither has direct control over the goals and objectives set by individual counties, but agreed to consider each other’s input in the development of goals and objectives set by individual counties, and agreed to foster common goals in order to provide a more consolidated effort to meet the needs of California’s veterans. The department’s executive staff met with the association’s strategic planning committee four times between October 2009 and October 2010 to discuss veterans’ needs and progress on accomplishing specific objectives, among other things, and the department told us that it plans to continue to hold these meetings three times per year. Finally, the department stated that representatives from the association participated in the annual update of its strategic plan as it related to Veterans Services’ goals, strategies, objectives, and plans of action. (2011-406, pp. 229-230)

  • Response Date: October 2010

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #11 To: Veterans Affairs, Department of

To ensure that it properly identifies and prioritizes the needs of the veteran community, the department should conduct a formal assessment of those needs, including soliciting input from the CVSOs.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From January 2012

The department has implemented a number of investigations to assess veteran needs for use during its strategic plan development. The first was a series of public hearings, known as All Hands Meetings, held throughout the State to hear directly from veterans, families, and local service providers, etc., as to their perception of veteran needs. Planning and execution of the hearings involved local veteran organizations and local governmental agencies that provide veteran services. These meetings highlighted the role of the CVSO locally and allow the local leaders to highlight local needs through smaller forums that precede the public hearings. The second effort was a statewide survey to seek input from the veteran community on veteran needs. This on-line survey began in February 2010 and closed data collection in mid-May. This survey sought input on veteran needs from three primary sub-groups: 1) active duty and veterans, 2) veteran family members, and 3) any resident interested in veteran issues. The department published a report on the findings in February 2011. (see attached). The third effort was to conduct three surveys of veterans involved with Operation Welcome Home. These surveys addressed both customer satisfaction and veteran service needs. After the veteran was interviewed by a CalVet member during Operation Welcome Home, CalVet sent out a survey 30 days, 180 days, and one year after they entered the program. The fourth effort was to conduct a survey of CVSOs just prior to the February 2010 training conference. This survey specifically asked the CVSOs, “In your expert opinion, what are the top three needs for veterans?” The department has published a white paper which utilized all of these data sources as its formal assessment of veterans needs and to make recommendations to the State’s policy makers as to prioritizing those needs. (2011-041, p. 186)

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #12 To: Veterans Affairs, Department of

To ensure that its strategic plan identifies how the department will address the needs and concerns of veterans, the department should develop measurable goals and objectives, as well as specific division action plans that directly align with the needs of the veteran community that it identifies in the plan.

1-Year Agency Response

The department published its new strategic plan in August 2009, and published a formal implementation plan that includes measurable goals, objectives, and plans of action in October 2009. According to the department, these plans of action directly align with the goals identified in its strategic plan. The department completed an update to its strategic plan in July 2010, and plans to annually refine its strategic plan through incorporation of information developed through improvements in identifying the needs of California’s veterans. (2011-406, p. 235)

  • Response Date: October 2010

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #13 To: Veterans Affairs, Department of

To ensure that it effectively measures progress toward meeting key goals and objectives, the department should follow the provisions in its strategic plan requiring it to establish performance measures, conduct and document quarterly progress meetings, and publish an annual performance measure report.

1-Year Agency Response

In its one-year response, the department stated that it has established quarterly meetings to review progress in completion of a business plan, which forms the basis for accomplishing its strategic goals. The department told us that it held meetings in January and April to review fiscal year 2010–11 quarterly progress on implementing its business plan and it has posted the results of these meetings on its Web site. The department has also published an annual report on major progress in implementing its objectives on its Web site. Additionally, the department stated that it has assigned a staff member to implement and track this quarterly reporting process, as well as the development of the annual strategic plan update and publication of the annual report. The department has published its annual update to the strategic plan and its companion business plan on its Web site. (2011-406, pp. 235-236)

  • Response Date: October 2010

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #14 To: Veterans Affairs, Department of

To ensure coordination in its efforts to achieve key goals and objectives, the department should eliminate Veterans Services’ strategic plan or ensure that the plan is in alignment with the department’s strategic plan.

1-Year Agency Response

The department has incorporated Veterans Services’ strategic plan into the department’s strategic plan; there is no longer a separate strategic plan for Veterans Services. (2011-406, p. 236)

  • Response Date: October 2010

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented


All Recommendations in 2009-108

Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.


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