Tester Spearheads Bipartisan Call for VA Transparency

Senator Leads VA Authorizers, Appropriators in Oversight of VA’s Implementation of Bipartisan Reforms

(U.S. Senate) – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Jon Tester today led a bipartisan call for more transparency and accountability as the VA implements their groundbreaking reforms for veterans.

After two years of bipartisan VA reforms, the Department is now in the midst of managing the simultaneous roll-out of major bills like the VA MISSION Act and disability appeals modernization, while undertaking the largest health record modernization project in the nation’s history.

Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), and Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees that fund the VA John Boozman (R-Ark.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), and John Carter (R-Texas), respectively, joined Tester in a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

“Since your confirmation, your team has provided staff-level briefings – albeit somewhat limited in scope and details – on the status of implementation of the VA MISSION Act, the Accountability Act, the Colmery Act, Appeals Modernization, and Electronic Health Records Modernization,” the Members wrote to Wilkie. “As we begin a new Congress, we expect regular, detailed briefings to continue and that you will take a collaborative approach that maximizes transparency and demonstrates your intent that Congress be a full and true partner in the implementation of these critical laws and initiatives. We share the common goal of VA’s success, and our hope is that early, frequent, and fully transparent dialogue will allow VA and Congress to jointly head off the kind of serious missteps we have seen in some recent implementation efforts.”

The VA is implementing bipartisan reforms to get rid of the arbitrary window for a veteran to use their G.I. Bill education benefits, streamline and modernize the process for a veteran to appeal their disability rating, and increase accountability of VA employees who jeopardize veterans’ safety or care. In June, the new Veterans Community Care Program established in the VA MISSION Act will begin serving veterans. The VA has also begun a decade-long process to transition to an Electronic Health Records system that will impact the records of nine million veterans.

The Members’ letter can be read in full HERE.