The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) was served a management advisory memorandum from the VA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) due to faulty electronic systems that improperly collected debt, according to a report released on September 7.

OIG discovered several instances in which VA collected the debts without first providing veterans with legally required notice and due process. VA officials agreed and attributed the errors to business rules in their software programming that triggered the debt collection.

The review team identified three scenarios in which VA improperly reduced payments to veterans to collect debts:

  • Debt is collected by reducing the retroactive payments created in the same award.
  • Debt is collected by reducing the retroactive payments created in a later award.
  • Debt is collected by reducing monthly benefit payments.

Officials told the review team “these debts were not collected as a result of actions taken by the center but were based on automated business rules in VA’s electronic systems that triggered debt collection,” the report said.

Officials said that some debts would continue to be improperly collected until the electronic systems are fixed. They agreed to collaborate and review VA’s electronic systems to identify improvements that can be made to ensure they comply with legal requirements before collecting debts.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.