Are You a Veteran? The GAO Report of April 1999 Shows That The VA is In Trouble; If you Depend On The VA For Any Benefits, So Are You : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Are you a veteran of America's Armed Forces, and partially dependent on the Department of Veterans' Affairs (the VA) for anything? If so, you would be well advised to find a more dependable alternative ASAP...certainly before the end of 1999.

The latest GAO report reveals that the VA is not as far along in its y2k preps as it suggested last fall. The 28 page report revealed that most of the vital services the VA provides to eligible veterans are still at risk.

Like many organizations, VA faces the possibility of computer system failures at the turn of the century due to incorrect information processing relating to dates....This could make veterans who are eligible for benefits and medical care appear ineligible. If this happens, the issuance of benefits and the provision of medical care that veterans rely on could be delayed or interrupted.

Although they have made some progress, some of the most mission critical systems are still not compliant, and may not be until June 30, or later.

As we reported last August, VBA [Veteran Benefits Admin.] had made progress in addressing the recommendations in our May 1997 report 3 and making its information systems Y2K compliant. It reported it had renovated 75 percent of its mission-critical applications as of June 1998. At the same time, VHA [Veterans Health Admin.] reported it had assessed all and renovated the vast majority of its mission-critical information systems.

Despite this progress, VBA was making limited progress in renovating two key mission- critical applications-- the compensation and pension online application and the Beneficiary Identification and Record Locator Sub- System. And, except for its Insurance Service, VBA had not developed business continuity and contingency plans for its program services--Compensation and Pension (the largest), Education, Loan Guaranty, and Vocational Rehabilitation and Counseling--to ensure that they would continue to operate if Y2K failures occurred.

The VA medical services are in similar shape.

VHA's Y2K program likewise had areas of concern. For example, although VHA's medical facilities had hospital contingency plans, as required by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, they had not yet completed Y2K business continuity and contingency plans.

To help things along, they did the same thing that a lot of other government departments/agencies did: they performed a re- assessment of their systems. To their credit (I hope), they moved resources around to bolster their y2k efforts.

...VBA reassessed its mission-critical efforts for the compensation and pension online application and the Beneficiary Identification and Record Locator Sub- System, as well as other information technology initiatives. It also reallocated resources to ensure that the Y2K efforts had adequate resources, including contract support, to achieve compliance.

They didn't have any contingency plans for their "business processes" until this year. So, they have to make changes as they "progress," right up to the very last minute. This leaves no time to test the contingency plans.

In addition, VBA completed a draft business continuity and contingency plan in January 1999 for its core business processes... According to VBA, the plan, which it expects to test this August, is an evolving document, to be revised and updated periodically until January 1, 2000.

The same goes for pension and disability payments, and payments for loans, and voc rehab benefits.

VBA's plan makes no reference to contingencies for the failure of three of VBA's benefit payment systems-- Compensation and Pension, Education, and Vocational Rehabilitation and Counseling. However, it is currently developing a payment contingency plan for these systems and expects this to be completed in May 1999.

Although they say that they have been working on y2k since 1996, if not before, they are so far behind that they have had to cut corners. They'll remediate, then test, stand-alone software applications, then test the applications after they have been integrated (combined). That will take so much time that there won't be any time left to test the entire system after the tested, integrated software has been installed in the working computer systems. That testing will have to be done using the "fix on failure" approach.

Our [y2k] guide describes a step-by-step framework for managing Y2K testing, which includes the following key processes:

- Software unit testing to verify that the smallest defined module of software (individual subprograms or procedures) continues to work as intended.

- Software integration testing to verify that units of software, when combined, continue to work together as intended. Typically, integration testing focuses on ensuring that the interfaces work correctly and that the integrated software meets requirements.

- System acceptance testing to verify that the complete system- that is, the full complement of application software running on the target hardware and systems software infrastructure--satisfies specific requirements and is acceptable to users. This testing can be run separately or in some combination in an operational environment (actual or simulated) and collectively verifies that the entire system performs as expected.

According to VBA and VHA officials, their testing criteria were based on their software development life cycle guidance documents. They said that upon completion of software unit and integration testing, a system is considered Y2K compliant. They said this type of testing had been completed for all of their mission- critical systems.

As it turns out, the VA hospitals are in similar, if not worse, shape. For example, they haven't yet completed assessment of the hospitals' interior facilities, such as HVAC, fire alarms, PA systems, laundries, and food services. Pharmacies are also in this condition.

The full report can be found in pdf format at:

-- LP (, May 27, 1999



I know two veterans who are on service-connected disability and depend on VA services. Thanks for the link.

-- Kevin (, May 27, 1999.

My hubby is a vet and currently gets a direct depo stipend monthly for school reimbursement. It isnt much, we call it the cheese deposit., however, we know of Many who depend on their disability. They are well aware of status of VA. Luckily for us we dont depend on this, but we arent counting on it either. They owe my hubby some serious money long term...oh well....I am fortunate that we dont have to depend on it.

-- consumer (, May 28, 1999.

yep, no kidding.


[who is stocking up for this reason as well!]

-- Arlin H. Adams (, May 28, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ