A scathing new report is now identifying major problems with how veterans' claims were handled at the VA Regional Benefits Office in St. Petersburg.
The report by the VA Inspector General’s Office says the VA was slow, sloppy and didn't hold a contractor accountable in handling veterans' claims materials.
That meant increased delays and raised the risk that sensitive information could have been compromised.
The report, which was released Wednesday, identified problems with how the regional office handles and safeguards documents submitted by veterans.
Investigators found boxes of disorganized veterans' paperwork, some containing sensitive information.
When inspectors arrived at a scanning facility operated by government contractor CACI in Georgia, they found a backlog of nearly 42,000 packages of veterans claims materials.
Most of the packages had been sent at least 30 days earlier, resulting in delays in claims processing that Congressman David Jolly, who represents the district and sits on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, finds inexcusable.
“I have begged and pleaded with the Secretary to fix this. Congress has provided every resource he’s asked for, a 6.5 percent budget increase, 700 new employees,” said Jolly. “The truth is, while the VA is making some progress, this report shows we’ve got a long way to go.”
The VA has agreed to better organize veterans' claims materials and will provide better oversight to the contractor to make sure scanning is done efficiently and sensitive information is protected.
A spokesperson says improvements have already been made at the St. Petersburg Veterans Benefits Office since the investigation was completed early last year.
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