Another New Veterans Affairs Website Fix

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Veterans Affairs Website Fix

Veterans Affairs Website Fix

Benjamin KrauseThe Department of Veterans Affairs is set for a new website fix to its massive 1,000 website problem as of this Veterans Day, again. I wonder how many millions this fix will cost.

Why does VA always launch some new technologic fix to resolve its longtime problem of poor customer service? Can technology fix a bad attitude or customer ambivalence?

Perhaps the answer is that it’s easy to grab a headline after throwing hundreds of millions at a problem with a clear tech fix. On the other hand, unraveling a culture of indifference is a bit trickier.

This Veterans Day, VA as announced it will fix its 1,000 website problem by creating one website and one telephone portal to help veterans with all issues. The worst of the 1,000 websites requires a veteran to make 17 clicks to reach the printout that tells the veteran what their benefits are.

This is an unacceptable option given how complex the websites are, and totally unacceptable in the modern user experience environment. Any web designer would get fired for a similar proposition.

Instead, Vets.gov will create a single point of entry for all things Veterans Affairs as it relates to our benefits. But the quick fix here will not be read for the next year after its launch. It will take one year for the website login to be secure.

How much do you think they are paying these folks given that it likely takes a small web company $10-20k to create a website with ample security?

VA also plans to create a new 1-800 number where a veteran can easily access all their benefits… Doesn’t VA already do this?

According to the Federal News Radio:

Once the national call center opens, it will be the main number that veterans will call for information about VA benefits and services, Allin said. He predicted phone representatives would answer about a fifth of the questions on the spot. They would transfer the rest to subject-matter experts.

The national center will be the first stop for those who do not know exactly whom to call, he said. Many of VA’s facilities’ phone numbers are hard to find, even through Google searches. Allin said he recently heard from a veteran in Guam who wanted to fly to the states for medical treatment, but could not find any contact information for the facility.

I don’t buy it. Last year, McDonald talked a lot of talk about how he was going to revolutionize VA by redefining its jurisdictional limitations. Are things any better? How will this supposed facelift of VA websites and its existing phone systems change anything?

The problem here is VA has no accountability. The bad apples in the system are corrupting that system and will continue to victimize good VA employees so long as they are in control. McDonald needs to increase accountability.

What would you say to a law change that easily allows veterans or VA employees to sue a bad manager directly when they knowingly violate the law?

Source: https://federalnewsradio.com/digital-government/2015/09/va-launch-vets-gov-solution-1000-website-problem/

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51 Comments

  1. Now that is a major concern of mine, clicking here and there for all benefit information and to get items I need. You know I have programmed a while and in my mind it just doesn’t make sense or dollars for them to have all these trails to follow to find something or do something.

    Plus all the different servers they are using from every location of the globe is just insane. They would probably actually save money by using one centralized location with one interactive web site with the cloud to distribute the information in a speedy manner to where ever you are in the world. It would be safer using just one infrastructure with the cloud to do it all.

    If twitter, facebook, ebay and your bank can do it, why can’t one of the largest organizations in America do it?

    • Because the VA still is utilizing “Cups and Strings” to communicate and that probably cost taxpayers a few hundred million because they had to be special cups made by yet another sub-contractor and then the string had to come from another contractor…none of which talked to each other…yes, I am being a bit flippant here, but how many times have we seen this same scenario unfold and the $$$$ ends up in the VA Black Hole, with the contacted job never successful?
      Why does the VA need to contract *everything* out? What exactly DO VA employees do then? Never mind, that answered itself.

    • Because the VA, like many federal agencies, thought years ago they should have a web site, and some employee likes to play on computers, so they put together a site. It ballooned since then, the original web guy is long gone, and the VA continued to try do it on the cheap so it has become this massive, disjointed mess that nobody knows what will break if they change things, and some IT manager has built an empire and refuses to let go.
      In my opinion, this is a clear example where a contract with a company that knows what they are doing would be worth the money…but it will never happen. To many clowns would rather protect their rice bowl.

    • Greg. I gets lots of emails and try to respond to most. Click on “contact” in the left column. Then send a short email with a question. Without it being short and a question, I don’t often know what the person is asking.

  2. I wonder, is VA using the same computer company that Obama used? Millions of taxpayers $$$ and the site kept crashing…..

    • This reply is for your other comment and namnibors response. A few years after the Gulf War, the VA claimed they could not give many of us ratings because the VA supposedly were not getting medical records from the VA…which was BS because I and many others gave the VA a complete copy of our military medical records, which the VA ignored. I believe Congress passed legislation in the mid 90s requiring the DOD and VA medical records be linked. It made for some favorable headlines, but that was the end result. I believe that same legislation required baseline medical tests prior to a soldier being deployed…which also didn’t happen as intended.
      Here we are over 20 years later hearing the same excuses.

  3. So, it’s going to take a full YEAR to fully polish yet another ‘VA Turd’? Anyone keeping track will see just how many times and how many Million$ in which has been spent on this very type of thing and almost always ends-up in a total fail.
    The VA *already* has a “centralized 800#, so I do not get that in the VA’s statement. Also, since as far as I recall, Veteran’s Day is Nov. 11, 2015 this year, so does this mean if the VA is going to start working on this NOW, what other programs will have wither their money $tolen (reappropriated…VA Speak), or this yet another reason for them to be going to Congress to ask for yet more ca$h just right after robbing the Choice Program royally, just seemingly weeks ago? Is this just a “Golden Turd” to try to get that 8% extra $$$ that Pres. Obama wanted to decrease for next year’s VA Budget?

    The VA seems to only come up with such future disasters that require Million$ when they want more ca$h, then usually never quite get there, then ask for even more money. Is this just a ruse to throw more ca$h in the Construction Projects Black Holes?

    Should the VA even be allowed to think of spending such cash at a time that they reportedly are ‘cash-strapped’? I am all for improvements, but this will do **NOTHING** to address abysmal customer service from the thousands of VA Employees, will it? What good is yet another “improved website” when the same idiots are running the asylum?

    Yes, yet another proposed polished turd and makes me wonder if this is to somehow counter some looming new scandal about to bleed to surface? Cannot buy trust.

  4. Nick, wouldn’t this make it easier for hackers to gain veterans personal information? What other problems do you foresee?
    I also wonder how much $$$$$ taxpayers monies this will end up costing? Remember, Obamacare cost a bunch more than what was expected. and it crashed many, many times……

      • namnibor, does this mean VA will, in some aspects, be under DOD’s rules and regulations?
        It would seem DOD has a better grip on expenditures.

        On a side note, did you read the article,
        “Dear Mr. President: FU
        Sincerely, the Pentagon.”
        posted by The Professor on Sept. 8, 2015

        It Concerns the new charge against
        Bergdahl? It’s an interesting read…

      • Yes, read those.
        No, the Millions/Billions $pent was sole purpose of converting paper records to electronic, and simply a merge with the operating system the DOD uses, nothing more…and it was either incompetence of the VA to utilize it or it was SUCH a hairy mess, that they just gave-up…BUT…the private contractor got ALL their $$$$…and this has happened oh so many times I have lost count.

        Why would this be any different? The VA has the definition of insanity down though.

  5. Ben this site has to be hacked ,I have several times Differant times wrote what I think & it gets erased right in front of me. Anyway our Sen Blunt came to Springfield this weekend ,apparently I am not the only one having serious problems with VA healthcare ,I just can’t get it at all& I 100% took all Meds & I can’t even get civillian Dr

  6. You know it’s like those ATM like machines at CBOC that don’t work 100% of the time the one we get for travel pay !they know we get frustrated with them and walk away same principal here. Make everything so complicated for us get pissed because they don’t want to help

  7. All I know is My Health eVet is bull$hit. Just like the rest of the VA bureaucratic BS.

    On average each clinic/pcp has anywhere from 2K-4K patients (per my own pcp’s words) @ the Dallas VA.

    I’m tired, worn out, and so sick of their failures. Whether it’s not telling me an MRI from 2 years ago showed I had kidney stones, and ended up being outsourced, since urology was so full, landed me 4 surgeries in 3 weeks. Or taking almost 2 years to tell me about “dense tissue” in my breast. And, not one person I know actually qualifies for the Veteran’s Accessibility Act.

    Now another implementation of some failed program. Give us a freaking card and lets us go to what doctor or specialist is best for us! After all you freedom was given to you….bureaucrats by ppl who stood in between the gap of Freedom and Tyranny.

    Laurie Reynolds
    Service Connected Disabled Veteran
    Plano, TX

  8. Yes, the VA is no different than any other facility in our country! When a employee brakes the law, they must answer for their actions, they are either arrested or fired! There are way to many VA employees that are breaking the law and higher management is giving their blessings, by ignoring veterans compliant. These higher management are just as guilty as the employee whom committed the illegal actions! If management is found not assisting the veteran solve the issue, and ignore or cover up the situation that becomes a conspiracy to defraud and failure to assist equal Gross mismanagement, Abuse of power. These managers have to be held accountable and the veteran must have some type of justice, when they are harmed. Employees must know that their actions against veterans is illegal and would. Be required to face a higher authority Judge and jury. This is the only thing they will understand! , they take action against veterans at will and are not afraid of getting into trouble as higher management will do absolutely nothing against them. Some of these employees will have their friends lye and cover up each other’s illegal activities and when it is found out that they covered up for someone, they need to be punished as if they did the illegal action themselves! Veterans must be able to express their concerns with out fear of being reported to the disruptive committee, where they are punished, threatened of arrested, banishment, arrest record. Management must be held accountable for their part in the cover-up failure to assist! Give veterans cameras, those employees that really care about veterans, will have nothing to worry about. Something also needs to be done about the way medical staff chart, they should not be allowed to put their personal feelings into a veterans chart! ,there has to be guide lines as to what they can put into the chart and their personal opinion left out, every one has an opinion, but the veterans chart is not where it belongs, only facts matter! Hold them accountable and give veterans their rights to seek justice, without fear of retaliation! .

    • If you have noticed these people who are accountable seem to resign before the hearing goes on or resign so they can get their golden parachute pensions. These people turn slippery when it is their turn. they should just pay all veterans on the compensation backlog and if they want choice of to still go to VA or they can pay with outside health insurance with compensation payment money. The VA seems to have the system screwed up for the veterans in the conflict of interest of the doctors at the VA. The entire government should address the length in time for a compensation claim and the body parts and how the VA wants to only give you an inch and nothing else. The BVA created this backlog by denying more claims and I hope Ben will address legislatures to shorten it and help pass a Veterans Bonus Bill or Adjusted Compensation payment Act amended from 1936 to eliminate the backlog in modern day inflation dollars.

      • I’m surprised no one has mentioned the dang rating scale. Talk about fuzzy math! I have well over 100% but on the VA rating chart when it is a secondary “cause” from your primary Disability, the new rating has a wave of the wand, and Viola you land a weird new percentage that doesn’t add up! Love that chart….NOT

  9. VETS VA IS ONE BIG BIG BIG BIG FEDERAL RICO CRIME RACKET THE AFGE UNION CONTRACTS ARE THE LAW FOR THE VA RICO CRIME RACKETS THE MAFIA IS MICKEY MOUSE TO VA RICO CRIME RACKETS !!!!!!!!!! VETS YOU ARE SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SCREWED BY VA RICO CRIME RACKETS FROM HELL

      • I agree. We all know about the VA Rico crime racket there, Reuben. How about saying something more worthwhile for a change? Boring!

  10. The main purpose of this tech-upgrade con-scam is revealed in the timing. Note that “It will take a year” for this to work. They know it will not work, because the same apathetic and destructive VA workers and executives will be the ones running the new show.

    MORE IMPORTANTLY, the very top guys and gals running the VA show will play the “we are almost done with our VA tech fix”, to be the new excuse AFTER the Presidential election.

    Secretary McD will use this for leverage to explain why he should be kept on as VA Secretary in the next Administration’s executive cabinet. It is a near certainty that will not work for him, but he will surely try.

    This may not become an issue because it is very likely Bob will be sacrificed BEFORE the election to bolster the veteran vote that the dems will surely need. You can bet the current administration has been shopping for Bob’s replacement for quite some time already.

    Keep in mind, it is never about the vets or the backfeed loop strength effect the VA has on our military and national security. It is ONLY about the veteran vote, especially in a close election like this one is expected to be. This means there will be ongoing major disasters at the VA for vets up to the time of the election, so the current administration can come to the rescue to secure the vet vote.

    The only good, tangible thing from that, is the possibility that there will be pressure and incentive for the current admin to go strong pro-vet to include an unusually big annual increase in VA comp rates, possibly up to 5 or 6 % or even 7%.

    The current admin will have to do whatever it takes to secure the vet vote. And, for the same simple reason: veteran votes, if you have a pending claim in place, there will be no better time in history to expect it to be approved shortly before the election. These are the kind of things Clinton did when he was President.

    And, since you can bet your life Obama will be listening very carefully to him and Hillary right up to election day, watch for these things to happen, which will have a very good impact for vets.

    Finally, to stoke the fires on how this stuff all works, it is very, VERY, likely there will be a major sacrifice of someone high up at the VA in the next few weeks, just to set the stage for a big shake up at the VA by mid-October if not sooner. (If anyone bothered to go back and read my predictions on what will happen at the VA over the past few years here on this site, you would see that I am right at least 95% of the time.)

    So, oddly enough, and only to get votes for the dem nominee, things will get much better for vets, seemingly miraculously, over the next few weeks.

    • Bruce, I hope and pray you are 100% correct on this. I also believe we are going to see a major shake-up within the next few weeks. I believe it will be due to the budget McD is going to try to get through Congress. They (VA) have not come forward and shown where and how they have spent any or all of the monies granted to them-EVER. They have not become transparent, accountable or anything else, YET…Weren’t they required to do these things last month?
      Something is about to break. I believe that wholeheartedly….I hope many of the bad VA employees get what they deserve!!!!!!!!

      • It would be a wonderful day, when that happens, some employees deserve prison! For what they have done to the veterans who but their lives on the line. We didn’t join just to have people hurt the very people who was trying to keep them free! Lets see if our government has the guts to ensure veterans are treated with respect and dignity! God help this country get back on track!

      • You can count on it: the VA will act like Santa on crack the closer we get to November 7th. When it happens, please try to resist the urge to suddenly start liking their leadership. This kind of ‘Christmas’ can only come once every 8 years, and then only during a very close election, after a series of monumental screw-ups. Watch out, because they still have plenty of time for a few more new VA disasters that they fully intend to, and will, drop on as many of us as possible.

  11. Hey y’all, Google this,
    “VA medical malpractice dot info”

    It’s one hellava website. When you google it make sure you have the “dot INFO” on it to get to the page. It’s got a bunch of sh!t on it.

  12. There are laws now that state if a veteran is harmed by an employee, they can be held accountable and that facility can not let other employees go (fired) in order to pay for the wrongdoing when a veteran or employee successfully wins a case! ?. The problem with this, is that the VA knows this and will deny any wrongdoing . Not only does the medical centers deny the wrongdoing. But the next step of the complaint will also be denied. A new law would be great but who is going to defend the veterans that can’t defend themselves. As long as we have VA officials who don’t give a crap about the veterans well being, will do anything they can to ensure the veteran is discredited or threatened with jail or banishment from all VA care! There should be an army of attorneys like Ben and go after their (VA) loopholes and use the VA’s own rules and the civil and constitutional rights against them. Or are these rights only for a few, not all Americans! McDonald states one veteran at A Time! He TURNS veterans away when they ask his office for assistance! That’s the truth, he is like the rest pass the buck. Oh hell this veteran is right, the evidence proves the VA wronged this veteran and we better not touch this, better we send it back to the very same people who harmed him, wow ! If this even gets out that we help him, that would prove that we have problems and I can’t deal with that right now. Hawaii here I come, get a few of my employees out there and act homeless and tell them to make me look good! Don’t give him another dime, until he can prove he is helping any veteran with concerns! Just do your job and quit passing the buck, that type of behavior is only hurting the veteran even more! I don’t think he even look at my case, just passed it on to the very same people who is wronging the veteran. There is no justice or honor in that type of leadership!. God help this country!

    • For some reason, no doubt largely due to my severe ptsd and tbi, your comment brings to mind what the Nazi high command did to “help” their troops in the field when they were being overran by the allies. Believe it or not, the German High Command had condoms dropped by the thousands, down onto their own troops by air-drop. I probably should not have said this because the VA will probably hear about it and come up with some new bizarre way to mess with us. What the hell was their HIgh Command thinking when they made those air-drops? And, doesn’t it sound like something the VA would do? I think it does. They have recently been caught doing some pretty weird things: mandatory satanic ritual meetings you have to pay your way into (séances), bizarre photos and pics of vets portrayed as toy dolls doing self-destructive behavior, and it goes on and on. The next time a plane flies over your place, look to see if it’s a VA air-drop of condoms, or maybe rubber dog shit, it could be either of those two things.

  13. Precisely, as I’ve stated before, veterans should be allowed to take the VA to court. But as far as I’ve been told, veterans aren’t allowed to to that. So, in other words the VA will keep on doing to veterans what it’s been getting away with for years. This new thing with fixing the web site, isn’t fixing it at all. What VA is doing in my opinion, they’re introducing new methods to make it more difficult for veterans to traverse through the bureaucracy. 17 clicks on a mouse to get to benefits? That alone shows what the VA is doing by intentionally frustrating veterans in order to get veterans to give up and go away. Isn’t Baghdad Bob equal to Hanoi Jane?

    • That is not an accurate statement because veterans can sue VA employee, VA Manager, Director, as far as the VA Secretary when the law, statute and regulation has been violated. To say that they can’t is a misleading statement. No one is above the law in a democratic society. It takes courage, skills, knowledge and good faith to eradicate the bad apple in our society.

      • I don’t think you can sue them unless it is for malpractice. The VA has rules of law they refer to that allows them to avoid being sued for just about anything else. Also, though you can sue the US government if they give you permission, yes, they have to give you permission, then you can sue. But, the only way you can sue the VA, is if you file a tort claim, or “injury” claim, and then you are still in a special inbred VA court where things are stacked against you much of the time. Federal employees are generally shielded from lawsuits, like firemen and police officers. I believe Ben will tell you the same thing.

      • No the Veteran can not sue. However, a family member or care provider can sue on the DAV’s behalf per the VA Patient Advocacy office at the Dallas VA. I have been going approx. 10 yrs.

        On another note regarding security breaches, the current program does not let me add notes, MRI’s, notes, etc., from when I was outsourced to a civilian hospital. So, at a much higher level, I say good luck stealing my identity, they can even figure out what they have now.

      • Jose, I could be wrong, but I don’t think any heads rolled after the horrendous Arizona VA ordeal. No criminal charges. I’ll search again, but I believe just a few demotions and one person was fired.

  14. Dear Mr.Krause:

    I do not understand the machinations of how the VA works but if they are willing and ready to waste billions of our money on their 1,000, websites then I would say close them down, regardless of the repercussions, it couldn’t be worse then what we are now experiencing, CLOSE THEM DOWN!!!.

    And have them prosecuted all of them.

  15. Ben asked: Why does the VA always use a tech fix to address their poor customer service problems? Answer: They do this so they can dish out poor customer service at a faster rate. Period.

    • Yes, it is a well oiled, bureaucratic machine who needs to pump out as many patients, tests,goals,objectives as possible. They have bonuses at stake.

      And Veterans can not sue, only family members on the Veteran’s behalf.

      • Simmer down soldier. We are on the same team. We are here to help each other. Yes, I could be wrong, however I was told this by my Congressman’s office by the VA representative. Now we could be talking about different types of criminal behavior, we could be talking about in this situation or that…idk…but for ME and what I feel is criminal medical negligence, I was told only my family members could sue for me on my behalf.

        Now, when addressing me, you can comment on my post and do what you want, but I’ve earned the respect not to be called out in a “Where did you hear this” type attitude. Plz remember we ARE on the same team.

      • We are on the same team. There are so f’ing many guidelines, information, misinformation, neglect, I certainly don’t need a complete social media anonymous person eating my shit. Perhaps the law changed, idk, but my Congressman’s office, and the Veteran portion of that office relayed this information to me. Statutes of Limitations, Tort Laws, etc. Perhaps der Veteran, you and I are in different categories, circumstances, idk, and now I don’t give a fuck. I need to change my email notifications. It’s 6:30 and I get this email from some Eric dude somewhat trying to bitch me out.

        Now I’m on a roll. Perhaps Eric, its your delivery. Dissemination of information can be made less hostile if you take a deep breath before you hit those keys. Shoot and move. Move on….meh :/ over it. Have a great day.

      • Thank you James. We are all on the same team. I had wanted to sue for years! And I’m 20 year vet. This information about not being able to sue has been reiterated to me for numerous years and as recent as last fall when I was finally awarded 80% (now I’m 90%but they just fight the 100%)

        We as a family should help each other and not chastise one another. However, PTSD, and a whole host of other issues sometimes get in the way. “OUR Flag was still there”.

        Let’s not treat each other like we are the ” keeper of the tab” and share.

  16. Having bad flashbacks. CAn someone tell me when the next presidential election is? is it this November 7th, or is it next year? and, did anyone else hear what Carson said about shutting down the VA health care system? and other parts of the VA too! I love it! I heard he beat out everyone in the recent debate, even trump. maybe that is why.

  17. A law change to sue a manager who violated the law knowingly? There wouldn’t be a need if the VA held their staff accountable. Since that will never happen, I am all for the law change…As long as the veteran can sue locally.
    As for the web site BS, it’s just another way of pawning off a veteran so some lazy VA staffer doesn’t have to interrupt their day answering the phone. It wasn’t long ago you could call the local hospital or even the VARO and get a human on the phone. Now it’s almost impossible.

    • Exactly. Active Duty I fell under the UCMJ, as a civilian, as it was explained to me, I still medically fall under the government and am basically a piece of government property. Most sites are just a bunch of veterans griping and there seems to be no progress or slow progress. IF we can sue now, I and the numerous legal powers to be know not of any new legislation pass allow a service member, active or previously active, to sue. So, that being said, either point us in the right direction or form a coalition, grass roots movement, etc. Right now I’m feeling this is just more rhetoric. So……carry on.

  18. Dear Mr. Krause:

    I am so sick about what is going on with veterans, if the trump wins the election I am ready to vote for him,( that’s me,) we could not be worse off then we are.

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