In response to a congressional request, the GAO reviewed the Veterans Administration's (VA) Compensation and Pension Benefit Payment System Target project to determine if VA achieved: (1) automation of claims authorization and inquiry functions in the regional offices; and (2) redesign of the system processing software to improve processing times, controls, and response to legislative requirements.
The GAO found that the VA initiated the Target project in 1972 to improve service and operation of the system, and expected the project to extend automation capability and modernize the existing system. Although VA planned to complete a phased redesign of the processing software, various factors obstructed this goal, including automation of regional office functions, software conversion, implementation of new legislation, and limitations in planning. VA did not capitalize on its Target investment, which resulted in limited improvement in claims processing time and incomplete claims processing, and incurred increased costs to maintain the software. In addition, since the quality of the software had no significant changes since the project began, VA was at risk trying to maintain the software in its present form. VA put minimal effort into solving the software's chronic problems until 1985, when it developed a new modernization plan that: (1) emphasized regional office enhancements; (2) presented effective solutions to the software problems; and (3) established an effective environment for systems development and maintenance.