The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is ramping up its hiring and technology capabilities to meet the challenges of backlogged benefits claims, a VA official told the House Veterans Affairs Modernization subcommittee at a June 6 hearing.

Robert Orifici, director of the Benefits and Memorial Systems Portfolio, Office of Information and Technology at VA, talked about actions that the agency is taking to meet claims backlogs since passage of the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (PACT) of 2022.

As of March 2023, the VA reported 222,905 backlogged claims, with the increase due in part to the coronavirus pandemic.

“While VA has and will continue to hire more people to process claims, adding more personnel is only one facet of the solution,” said Orifici.  “VA must equip our new and existing employees with the right tools to enhance productivity.”

The agency also is “[evolving] its approach to leveraging data to anticipate needs and proactively serve service members, veterans and their families,” said Orifici.

On the IT front, Orifici said the agency has been retiring older systems in favor of cloud-based technologies.

Orifici told subcommittee members that the agency is confident its modernization roadmap will work to provide “a modernized enterprise and automated decision tools” to ensure that Veterans Benefits Administration systems “remain current, reliable, and flexible.”

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.