Executive Office of the President

Office of Management and Budget

 

Veterans Affairs Branch

 


FAX TO:
Stephen Lemons
FROM: Toni S. Hustead
DATE: January 24, 1997
Pages (including cover): 2

 

I want to thank you for the time that you have spent today trying to come to a good solution to a complex problem. In good faith, VA [Veterans Administration] and OMB [Office of Management and Budget] have worked hard over the last year to develop performance standards that will ensure that delivery of services and benefits to veterans are continually being monitored and perfected. As GPRA [Government Performance and Results Act] goes into effect we will all learn how to bring these tools together in a smooth and orderly fashion so that all information is available to policy makers when budget decision are made.

VBA [Veterans Benefits Administration] has workload projection models developed and maintained by the different program offices, new BPR [Business Process Reengineering] performance projection models run by a contractor, budget projection models run by the budget offices, and other financial systems run out of Austin/Hines etc. Together, we have been working with your staff over the last 2 years to better integrate these complex Systems. We all agree that progress has been made but much is left to be done.

As you know, while The President's 1998 Budget does contain outyear funding levels by account, it does not contain outyear workload and performance measures. VBA wants to publish this specific information.

We are faced with the following situation:

1) 0MB is not yet technically comfortable with using the combined end products of these separate systems as predictors of workload and performance for any of the programs five years out.

2) Most of the VBA outyear workload and performance measures (other than C & P) paint a grim picture of service to veterans. GPRA envisions that if these kinds of results come out of a status quo model they should be discussed during negotiations. At that time options on how service to veterans can be maintained or under these funding constraints should be brought forward. What innovations, consolidations, or resource tradeoffs can and should be made to ensure the Administration’s commitment in these areas? These discussions did not take place at the political level.

 

 

 

Toni S. Hustead, Chief Veterans Affairs Branch Phone: (202) 395-4500

Page 1 Fax: (202) 3956835


 

 

 

3) 0MB received the VBA budget documents and grim outyear figures for the first time less than 3 business days prior to the Secretary's print deadline of the Congress. It would take weeks for us to technically access these projections; to set up strategy meetings with the Department to understand what options were explored to ensure quality service to veterans under these outyear constraints; and then to obtain policy guidance from our political level.

 

However, we do understand the importance to the Department of including projected C & P workload and performance projections with its BPR strategic plan. To solve our immediate problem and ensure the Secretary's print deadline, I recommend the following:

 

1) We will allow C & P outyear projections to remain in the volume. Our edits of this volume will include a caveat as to the difficulty of predicting these types of items, especially for a reengineered environment. [Note, this will give some room for any agreed upon adjustments and for enhancements in the next few months.]

 

2) We will edit all other VBA program descriptions to exclude outyear workload and performance projections. This will give us a chance to clear these numbers before public disclosure. However, no commitment can be made at this time when such an agreement on the numbers may be reached. [Note, my staff has alerted me that there is a wide range of quality in the VBA volume descriptions. 0MB hopes that you assure your staff that this decision in no way reflects upon the hard efforts of many to implement GPRA.]

 

We expect to work this weekend so that all of these volumes are back to Shirley Carozza by Monday morning. This way her staff can incorporate our comments on Monday and still meet the deadlines of the Secretary.

 

But our work can not stop here. With the experience of the last few months under our belt, and the immediate wave of testimony and work in front of us; I recommend that you, headquarters staff, and I sit down together and outline what we need in the short-term, the near-term, and the long-term to support the Secretary and the President's agreed upon budget and their commitment to veterans. I appreciate our frank and honest discussions and know that together, we can all continue to improve these complex areas.

 

Best Regards,

 

cc: Shirley Carozza

Bruce Long Toni S. Hustead

 

 

Toni S. Hustead, Chief Veterans Affairs Branch Phone: (202) 395-4500

Page 2 Fax: (202) 3956835