VA’s Oversight of State Approving Agency Program Monitoring for Post-9/11 GI Bill Students

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12/02/2018 07:00 PM EST

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted this audit to determine if VA and State Approving Agencies (SAAs) were effectively reviewing and monitoring education and training programs that enrolled Post-9/11 GI bill students to ensure only eligible programs participated. Prior OIG reports noted significant financial risks for these programs. Based on its review, the OIG estimated that 86 percent of SAAs did not adequately oversee the education and training programs to make certain only eligible programs participated. The OIG estimated that, without correction, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) could issue an estimated $2.3 billion in improper payments to ineligible programs over the next five years. Oversight deficiencies occurred, in part, because VBA maintained it has a limited role for oversight of SAAs. Congress intended VBA to work cooperatively with the SAAs to ensure the quality and the effective administration of Post-9/11 GI Bill programs and to protect student and taxpayer interests. However, the former Executive Director of VBA Education Service stated that the SAAs were primarily responsible for the review, approval, and monitoring of programs, and that VBA was prohibited under Title 38 from exercising control over the SAAs. VBA maintained this position, even though it is authorized to establish and negotiate contracts with SAAs and to set requirements for the SAAs’ completion of program reviews, approvals, and monitoring in the terms and conditions of these contracts. The OIG recommended clarifying requirements for approvals, requiring periodic reapproval of programs, reporting schools with misleading advertising, strengthening compliance, revising program assessment standards, and confirming that SAA funding can support the recommended steps.