Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The VA May Blow $2.3 Billion In GI Bill Funds On Schools That Don't Deserve It, IG Says
The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) has issued the latest in a series of five audits charging that the Department of Veterans Affairs' oversight failures could potentially lead to $2.3 billion in GI Bill money going to ineligible for-profit schools over the next five years.
The latest OIG report released Monday focused on poor monitoring of state officials — called State Approving Agencies, or SAAs — by the Veterans Benefits Administration "to ensure only eligible programs participated" in post-9/11 GI Bill student education and training.
The report found that an astounding "86 percent of SAAs did not adequately oversee the education and training programs" to make sure the schools had proper accreditation. The VBA's failure to monitor the SAAs contributed to the problem, it added.
"The OIG estimated that, without correction, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) could issue an estimated $2.3 billion in improper payments to ineligible programs over the next five years," the report stated.
"Because VBA and the SAAs lacked effective controls to ensure the proper review, approval, and monitoring of programs," the report noted, "VBA could not provide reasonable assurance" that the money was going where it should and students were receiving quality education.
In fiscal 2017, VBA paid schools about $5.06 billion for nearly 750,000 post-9/11 GI Bill students, according to the report. Poor oversight contributed to GI Bill students attending "4,400 programs where VBA lacked sufficient support for program eligibility, and for which VBA issued an estimated $585 million in related improper payments."
In its response to the findings, the VA disagreed with its OIG on who was responsible for the oversight. "VBA maintained it has a limited role for oversight of SAAs," the report said, but the OIG's office said the VBA had sufficient authority under the U.S. Code and directives from the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Carrie Wofford, president of the non-profit Veterans Education Success, called the report "serious and damning."
"[But] we are ... heartened the inspector general agreed with us that VA has a statutory obligation, apart from the state approving agencies, to cut off colleges that deceive veterans," she said.
The latest OIG report came amid an ongoing scandal over the department's failure to put in IT systems in time to handle changes in the housing allowances under the GI Bill, a misstep that resulted in a backlog of thousands of claims.
The VA last next week pledged to reimburse veterans who were underpaid and have a new system in place by December next year.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee was set to hold a hearing on the housing allowance problems this week, but the event was postponed in deference to the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, who died in Houston last week at age 94.
Other federal agencies have investigated the for-profit schools' efforts to attract post-9/11 student veterans and their GI Bill tuition money.
Last month, 28 veterans organizations called on the Federal Trade Commissionto release the names of the for-profits that participated in an $11 million scam to buy "leads" on potential veterans from shady companies that set up websites not affiliated with the military, such as army.com, to track those interested in the military.
A Rand Corp. study released last week, however, offered a different take on for-profit schools, at least regarding the Defense Department's military spouse scholarship program, Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA). Service members whose spouses use MyCAA are more likely to stay in the military, and the scholarship users are more likely to be employed, the Rand study found. It also noted found that spouses who used for-profit institutions were more likely to be employed than those who did not.
This article originally appeared on Military.com
More articles from Military.com:
- Rising Suicide Rates Among Younger Veterans Trigger Alarm Bells at VA
- Gold Star Families' $10 Billion Lawsuit Against Iran Opens in Federal Court
- VA Shorted Benefits to Some Vets with Lou Gehrig's Disease, IG Finds
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.
Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.
U.S. Special Operations Command may be on the verge of making the dream of flying infantry soldiers a reality, but the French may very well beat them to it.
On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron shared an unusual video showing a man on a flying platform — widely characterized as a "hoverboard" — maneuvering through the skies above the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris armed with what appears to be a dummy firearm.
The video was accompanied with a simple message of "Fier de notre armée, moderne et innovante," which translates to "proud of our army, modern and innovative," suggesting that the French Armed Forces may be eyeing the unusual vehicle for potential military applications.
A lawmaker wants to know if the Pentagon ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with bioweapons
If you've ever wondered if the Pentagon has ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with biological weapons, you're not alone.
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) authored an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would require the Defense Department Inspector General's Office to find out if the U.S. military experimented with using ticks and other insects as biological weapons between 1950 and 1975.
If such experiments took place, the amendment would require the inspector general's office to tell lawmakers if any of the ticks or other bugs "were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."
The Taliban drove his family out of Afghanistan when he was a child. Now he wants to go back as a Marine
There's no one path to military service. For some, it's a lifelong goal, for others, it's a choice made in an instant.
For 27-year-old Marine Pvt. Atiqullah Assadi, who graduated from Marine Corps bootcamp on July 12, the decision to enlist was the culmination of a journey that began when he and his family were forced to flee their home in Afghanistan.
The Air Force has administratively separated the Nellis Air Force Base sergeant who was investigated for making racist comments about her subordinates in a video that went viral last year, Task & Purpose has learned.