Report 2009-108 Recommendations and Responses in 2012-041

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

Department Number of Years Reported As Not Fully Implemented Total Recommendations to Department Not Implemented After One Year Not Implemented as of Most Recent Response
California Department of Veterans Affairs 3 14 5 4

Recommendation 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.

Response

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 Status: Will Not Implement
  • Response Date: September 2012

Recommendation 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.

Response

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.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: Summer 2013
  • Response Date: September 2012

Recommendation 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.

Response

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.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: Unknown
  • Response Date: September 2012

Recommendation 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.

Response

(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.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: June 2013
  • Response Date: September 2012

Current Status of Recommendations

All Recommendations in 2012-041