An Information Sheet for Federal Communicators, Managers, Workers, and Their Partners--Pass It On
As a kick-off to the Nation's Memorial Day observance, Vice President Gore and Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Jesse Brown announced the reform of the confusing and complicated eligibility criteria for veterans' medical care and other reinvention initiatives at the Washington, DC, VA Medical Center on May 25. According to Vice President Gore, "The result will be much better service for veterans, and hundreds of millions of savings each year."
VA Will Simplify Procedures and Improve Services
- Cut the 93-question eligibility form down to 4 questions--and that includes the applicant's name.
- Ask Congress to fix laws that now, for example, force VA doctors to hospitalize veterans who only need such care as blood pressure treatment or crutches. Vice President Gore said, "In most cases, hospitalization isn't needed medically--it just drives up the cost and disrupts the veteran's life...We think the doctors in the clinics, not the rule makers in Washington, should decide what treatment is needed and whether the patient needs to go to the hospital."
- Simplify annual means testing. Currently, that process involves an extensive interview process once each year or each time the veteran seeks care at a different VA medical center. On top of that, VA also verifies records with IRS and Social Security. VA plans to simplify this process by giving up the interview and using the new short form to ask the veteran for permission to access his or her IRS records.
VA also plans to study VA/Department of Defense health care sharing, use electronic benefits transfer for education benefits, consolidate VA insurance activities, terminate the manufactured housing program, allow VA to retain a portion of medical insurance collections, study Medicare reimbursement for VA, and contract out home loan servicing.
Reinvention Ideas Came from Front-Line Employees
Many of the innovative proposals came from front-line VA employees, some of whom were able to watch the announcement by television satellite hook-up at 35 VA locations nationwide. The reinvention initiatives will simplify complex veterans' health care eligibility rules and save $210 million over 5 years. For more information about VA's reinvention plan, call Ray Wilburn at (202) 273-7509.
A federal-state team has won a Hammer Award for quickly implementing a Federal Highway Administration program that permits Vermont to bill the FHWA electronically and get paid the same way.
Employees from the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Washington FHWA headquarters, and the Vermont Division of FHWA got the program off to a fast start after it was piloted in the state of New Jersey. The payment "vehicle" entered the fast lane on the information highway on April 14. With very little paper and no postage, Vermont now gets paid by electronic deposit less than 48 hours after it submits a bill electronically. With millions of dollars at stake, every day gained means Vermont gets interest that would otherwise be lost.
FHWA is implementing the program nationwide. For information about the program call Norman Scites at (202) 366-2862. For information about Vermont, call Donald J. West at (802) 828-4423.
Government and industry personnel at all levels who are involved in government acquisition are invited to attend the Acquisition Working Summit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on June 26-28.
On "Federal Day" the conference will showcase the efforts of some of the approximately 40 reinvention labs that have been busy finding better ways to purchase the government's goods and services. The labs, all endorsed by the National Performance Review, have the authority to try new acquisition methods that could reduce costs and cut red tape. On "Industry Day" participants will learn what U.S. corporations have done to "reinvent" themselves and hear what road blocks industry wants government to remove.
Speakers include Dr. Elaine Kamarck, Vice President Gore's Senior Policy Advisor for NPR (invited); Dr. Donald Kettl, Fellow of the Brookings Institution and Professor of Public Affairs and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin; Colleen Preston, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Reform; and Jodie Olmer, Director and Special Counsel for Domestic Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The conference is sponsored by NPR and the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy. Numerous public and private organizations are co-sponsoring or cooperating in the event.
For More Information
For program information, contact Linda Czernicki at (414) 384-2000, Ext. 6900; on e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For registration, contact Terry Skelton or Joyce Collins, (608) 262-3581, FAX: (608) 265-3233, e-mail: email@example.com.
For more information, contact Pat Wood or Marlene Crooks, Communications Team, National Performance Review, 750-17th St., NW, Washington, DC 20006, (202) 632-0150; FAX: (202) 632-0390; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Pat's extension is 102; Marlene's is 138.