The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has awarded a $453 million contract to support and modernize the GI Bill benefits processing system to Accenture Federal Services (AFS).
In a statement, AFS said the Digital GI Bill Delivery Program contract will run for a base period of seven months with nine, one-year option periods. The VA said the goal of the contract is to “transform operations of the GI Bill to a digital platform.”
The VA has tasked AFS with ensuring the VA is compliant with requirements laid out in the Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020. Additional recent legislation has required the VA to transform two dozen legacy IT systems, to improve the speed and accuracy of its education claims processes.
As part of the contract, AFS and 12 subcontractors will improve the education claims processing system, as well as help modernize other education and management systems for VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). AFS will focus on automation, user interface/user experience design, service transformation, and analytics, among other technologies.
“Changing job markets, workforce trends, technologies and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated the need to provide GI Bill benefits to veterans and their families while protecting benefits for beneficiaries impacted by the world’s shift to virtual learning,” Charmain Bogue, the VBA’s executive director of education service, said. “All of these changes highlight the need for a benefits delivery system that is highly responsive and adaptive to veterans and their families in a digital world so VA can implement GI Bill program changes faster and accurately. With the Digital GI Bill delivery program, we look forward to further transform GI Bill benefits.”
With the new platform, the VA said it will be able to call, email, text, and chat with GI Bill beneficiaries, grant VBA immediate access to beneficiary records, and respond to questions from colleges and universities instantaneously.
“Throughout implementation, VA will seek feedback from students, schools, and partners to ensure we are meeting their needs effectively as they pursue their academic and vocational goals,” said Acting VA Under Secretary for Benefits Thomas Murphy.
The VA said the new platform, which will be the product of both the VBA and the VA’s Office of Information and Technology, will include:
- “Improved customer and financial services, allowing for timely and accurate delivery of payments and real-time eligibility and benefit information.
- The ability for GI Bill students to engage with VA through electronic outreach, intake, and upgraded communication tools for on-the-spot service;
- An end-to-end systems management perspective to ensure proper compliance and oversight of GI Bill programs, and the use of data and business intelligence tools to track, monitor, and measure school and student outcomes;
- Support for new program and policy requirements to keep up with the ever-evolving changes within the academic community and job market.”
The program will be largely funded with $243 million the VA received as part of the CARES Act to support the Digital GI Bill modernization overhaul.