NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Red Tape Challenges Facing U.S. Veterans

July 11, 2013

There is significant regulatory red tape facing U.S. veteran, says Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the American Action Forum.

As reported by numerous media outlets, the delay of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) claims continues to skyrocket.

  • The number of veterans waiting more than a year to receive benefits jumped from 11,000 in 2009 to 245,000 by December 2012, an extraordinary 2,000 percent increase.
  • The total "logjam" is now estimated at more than 600,000 veterans waiting on VA action.

The main problem, according to reports, is that VA has not yet transitioned fully to an online platform, but instead relies on paper documents.

  • For example, some reports claim that one VA center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, contains so many documents that it could collapse an entire floor.
  • Eighteen different agencies administer more than 600 forms, imposing 43.4 million hours of paperwork.
  • To put that paperwork burden in perspective, it would take approximately 21,750 employees working 2,000 hours a year to complete one year of paperwork.

Digging through the 319 information collections, Batkins constructed a hypothetical regulatory path that a veteran might face after discharge from service. He finds a disabled veteran seeking health and educational benefits could encounter up to 49 different forms, more than four hours of paperwork, and an aggregate cost of $125 (assuming $31 per hour of compliance time).

In any area of government, there will of course be forms and obstacles for individuals and businesses.  But for America's veterans, navigating 18 agencies and more than 600 forms has produced absurd results and unnecessary delays.

Source: Sam Batkins, "Red Tape Challenges to America's Veterans," American Action Forum, July 2, 2013.

Additional reading: Kyle Buckley, "Veterans Affairs Fails to Curb Suicide Epidemic," National Center for Policy Analysis, June 18, 2013. Kyle Buckley, "VA Electronic Health Records: What Federally Mandated Health Integration Really Looks Like," National Center for Policy Analysis, May 8, 2013. Pamela Villarreal and Kyle Buckley, "The Veterans Disability System: Problems and Solutions," National Center for Policy Analysis, December 12, 2012.


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