OCTOBER 25, 2015
Oakland VA Claims Backlog Scandal"
Brown US Navy (ret) 1979-1989 Corpsman
•Began working in Oakland September 14, 2009 as a Claims Assistant.
•Worked the "informal claims project" November 2012 - March 2013
•April 2014 a cart with the old claims showed up in her work area. A
review of a couple folders revealed her initials from 2012. The
claims still weren't processed!''
•She began working with Congressman Doug LaMalfa's office to expose
these old claims (many dated back to the early 1990's).
•In September 2014 a very hostile work environment and service
connected health concerns forced her to file for early retirement.
•Rustyann is very clear that her testimony is not about her, but
rather the 13,184 veterans whose claims should have been properly
adjudicated by the Oakland VA.
Informal claims in the Oakland Regional Office
‘Final Love Note’ To VA Employees
Secretary Allison Hickey stepped down on Friday but not before
sending a “final love note” to VBA employees across the country.
Questions still remain about why Hickey covered for VA executives
linked to allegations of pay fraud and nepotism. However,
yesterday’s article led to some revelations about Diana Rubens and
Kim Graves that I will write about later this week.
Why Was Allison Hickey Covering For Rubens, Graves?
One thing I will say is that I am sick of VA executives boosting the
image of Veterans Affairs by talking up how many items they touch
while doing their job. It would be like me bragging about how many
times I push a key on my computer keyboard. They should add things
like, “2 million pounds of paperclips used.” Or, “10 billion pages
printed on a printer using computers.” Or, “1 million claims
shredded unlawfully.” Or, “1000 whistleblowers retaliated against.”
They always seem to leave out the full picture.
ALLISON HICKEY FINAL EMAIL
SUBJECT: My final love note – Thank You and God Bless!
VBA Team Members, VA Team Members and Partners,
Over the last four and a half years, I have sent you many a note
acknowledging all the extraordinary efforts and results you have
driven to significantly improve our delivery of benefits and
services to our over 12 million Veterans, Servicemembers, their
families and Survivors. In every one of these notes, there was also
an ask, a call to action, for the next level of service we can and
This note–my last to you–is no different.
I asked you all four years ago to embark on a seemingly impossible
mission, knowing from my early and continued conversations with you
that you were “All In!” — so willing, able and ready to transform
VBA in scope and scale never achieved before in our history. You
committed your heart and soul in such phenomenally dedicated ways. I
am proud today to acknowledge that together, we have changed how we
serve Veterans for all time — and we are not done yet. There is
still more to do!
As a direct result of a Transformation Plan we developed together
and implemented together — we have eliminated a decades old backlog
by nearly 90 percent, reducing it from 611,000 to just over 70,000
today — and increased our accuracy at the claim level by 8 percent
to 91 percent, to 96 percent at the issue level, and to over 98
percent in 7 of the 8 error categories — with the last one at 97.7
percent. We have now completed 1.4 million claims and over 6.3
million medical issues in just the last year — the highest in our
history of VA — increasing our productivity by over 81 percent! Year
over year, you have exceeded the previous years’ service to Veterans
across all of our business lines — Compensation, Pension, Fiduciary,
Home Loans, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, Insurance,
Benefits Assistance and Outreach, and Transition And Employment
Services, Public Contact, Call Centers. You have leveraged the
enabling support of our Support Services, IT, General Counsel,
Public Affairs, Legislative Affairs, Strategic Planning,
Communications, HR, Finance, VHA C&P exams, Contractors, PMO
offices, MyVA, Labor Partners, ISOs, VSOs at the National, State and
County levels, and other Veteran Advocates to achieve this
record-breaking level of service.
With this combined effort, Veterans now wait on average 92 days for
a high quality decision and fiscal year to date, their claims have
taken 127 days on average to complete. This is the lowest ADP and
ADC in the 21st Century!
We no longer touch 5000 tons of paper in a single year. We now
complete 99.9 percent of all Veterans claims in our newly
transformed digital environment. We did this all in a
record-breaking 2 years — something not done before at this
magnitude in the Federal Government and not easily matched even in
the commercial business environment. You have made history across
both Federal and Commercial space in your “All In” efforts to
achieve this transformation for our Veterans, their families and
Survivors. The technology you have built, tested, and deployed has
been instrumental in this accomplishment, but the real success
belongs to the people who built and use it every day to make such a
big difference in our Veterans’ experience.
But we aren’t done yet. There is more to do, and that will take new,
fresh thinking and energy from your next leader in VBA as my mission
with you comes to a close. My heart and spirit will remain with you
as you continue your efforts. I am so very proud of each and every
one of you.
I came here as a calling to transform VBA and to help so many
Veterans, Service Members, their families and Survivors. My heart
and passion will always be focused on that aim. After 4.5 years of
this blessed honor, it is time to serve others and you in a
There has never been a job I have been blessed to do that was so
rich with purpose; no customer so honored to serve; no team so
amazing to work alongside as this noble mission. Together, we have
made such a big difference to many millions of those who have borne
the battle. We have many more to care for as well – so continue your
“all in” efforts! (That is the ask! Remember: Integrity, Quality,
Grant if you can – deny only if you must!)
I throw to each of you — the virtual “starfish” for making such an
amazing difference to so many…and to this one. I look forward to
seeing how you take it to the next level.
So Very Proud to Be Your Under Secretary
ALLISON HICKEY LOVE NOTE EMAIL FOOTER
The starfish story:
While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in
the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into
the ocean. As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of
a young woman, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one
gently back into the water.
The Old man smiled and said,” I must ask, why are you throwing
starfish in to the ocean?” To this, the young woman replied, “The
sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they
will die.” Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But
young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of
beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t
possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up
another starfish, threw it back into the ocean past the breaking
waves and said, “I made a difference for that one.”
Allison A. Hickey
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