tv House Veterans Affairs Hearing on GI Bill Payments CSPAN November 27, 2018 8:08am-10:00am EST
his most recent book debuted at number one on the near times bestsellers list. join us for "in depth fiction edition" with author brad meltzer live sunday from noon to 3 p.m. eastern on booktv on c-span2. >> when the new congress starts in january there will be more than 100 new house and senate members. the democrats will control the house. the republicans the senate. new congress, new leaders. watch the process unfold on c-span. >> now appearing undulates in g.i. bill payments and i.t. issues at the veterans affairs carbon. jodey arrington chairs the subcommittee hearing.
beto o'rourke serves as the ranking member. this is one hour 50 minutes. >> good afternoon, everyone. the subcommittee will come to order. i'm going to apologize in advance for the length of my remarks but i think they're important, so let's begin. first again, thanks for everybody being here and everybody participating in the hearing. the subcommittee economic opportunity where we will continue the oversight, the implementation of post-9/11 g.i. bill of 2017 and associated payment processing delays. as i i said in the two previous hearings, this subcommittee is help on this topic. it is critical we work to ensure this bill is implemented so that veterans receive their due benefits they deserve and in a town and consistent manner. after all, if all we do is pass reform bills that are just kind of memo to the file unless the implement them effectively, would you agree?
our hearing that we had on july -- sometime in july, we implored that the va officials who here to remedy whatever problems existed and we were promised that it would be addressed in the matter of weeks, days, if not weeks. we were also assured that delays would be short and would not significantly impact students. however, as we sit here almost four months later it could be a missed on those predictions, as well, and the student veterans are no fun at themselves pretty bad situation. we are hearing from them. this may be the worst in terms of implementation and problems that burdens placed on her student veterans since the 2010 g.i. bill changes, due to increased workload i continued i.t. fields, large number of student veterans have contacted members of congress and vsos
with complaints of extended delays in receiving monthly housing allowance payments. while the va has made some attempt at helping the students, and recognize and appreciate that, i'm still concern that the va's have put out confusing public messages and ip deficiencies continue to put veterans at risk. these veterans are relying on these payments to pay rent and put food on the table. this is no small thing. they should no doubt get answers to why these delays are occurring and what is the va doing to address the situation. one of the main reasons for the persistent setbacks is the continued delay making modifications to the long-term solution, or lds, the i.t. system, to properly implement section 107 of the law. this section change the way the va calculated living stipend payments for students funding based on where schools had court to be based on where the student was taken the majority of the
classes. at the subcommittee hearing in july we were told the modifications would be completed by mid-august. once this date was missed the va has never given the committee another estimated date of completion. unfortunately, , we're about her from dr. lawrence, the modifications to the i.t. system are still not ready. the va still does not know when they will be ready to deploy proper payments to g.i. bill recipients. i find these delays simply unacceptable. i'm sure my colleagues feel the same way. i'm very interested to hear from the va, oi and represents a booz allen, confirmation and ten information of the office of information technology and booz allen whose over this project. while i'm not an i.t. expert i cannot understand why 50 months after this law was passed we are sitting asking these questions.
i'm also concern that when these modifications are finally ready for deployment the va current i.t. system will not be able to handle the workload. this concern was crystallized by an oversight visit that john and some of the other committee staff members took to tuskegee oklahoma where they have regional can you guys have center. on the visit staff and dedicated employee trapped in the system with aging i.t. infrastructure that crash so often that simple task that should of taken five minutes were taken 45 minutes. staff also learn between april and september, the inventors in mosquito-y had to write off 16,899 i was due to system crashes were latency issues. kennedy staff said they witnessed the system while they were there crash no fewer than five times in ten minutes during a demo. while va, and step into and look
for ways to address these issues we learn senior va leaders 17 of the best quote-unquote programmers only after the committee staff visitor should take a congressional oversight visit for the va to address these issues raised a number of times over the last 15 months. it's also clear updating and modernizing a half a dozen systems needed to complete a g.i. bill claim has not been a priority for the department. student veterans are now paying the price for va ignoring and putting band-aids on this problem, we believe, for years. i could only begin to imagine the mess it will have on this and when these will be used to process types of thousands of claims will have to be reworked when the modifications are ready. what is even worse is the va will be doing this we work during the same time they typically begin processing claims for the spring semester. this means that while the
current inventory g.i. bill claims has been worked down, i'm very worried schools and students have not seen the worst of payment delays. as i have repeatedly said, meaning over the drinks and many of the issues covered not only in the subcommittee but under the leadership of chairman roe, it seems like, try to the root cause has been i.t. infrastructure and getting the right i.t. solutions and managing the i.t. system effectively. we saw this earlier in the year with the rehab case management tool and this committee, another booz allen hamilton project for the department wasted $12 million on an i.t. system with nothing to show for it. and now we're seeing this problem tries again with a g.i. bill. with delays are some veteran stretching over 60 days, something these guys let some real hardships. real hard, maybe even personal family crises as result of this. i understand the systems are old and complex. it's well past the point where
congress, taxpayers and most importantly our student veterans are going to accept the same tired excuses. congress consistently has provided the va with record budgets. that's clear. and i think the vague answers we've gotten and resent a lot of letters, with that inquiries, personal meetings. i think that the answers we are getting and the delays and the promises we will have it fixed that end up not happening are unacceptable. again, i think i can speak for the committee to say that. we're all concerned about our veterans. dr. lawrence and mr. james, i hope you can shed some light on what you and secretary wilkie are plenty to do to address these problems. i hope you can tell us when the modifications will be ready. give student veterans simple answers as to why we are in this mess in first place and what you're going to do to get it right. student veterans have completed their mission for all of us, and it is time that the va stand up and hold someone accountable for
their failing actions. or the lack of actions. maybe a lack of accountability. i know he'll do to my friend and ranking member and fellow texan, mr. o'rourke for any remarks you might have. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i don't know if there's a lunch i can add to your excellent opening comments, but to say that i think typically the format for hitting like this one having asserted on this committee for six years is for those of us up here to express our outrage, those of you at the witness table to tell us that you're working on the issue, to express your dedication and commitment to serving veterans, and for all of us to leave a some kind of vague understanding of what will be delivered. what i would challenge all of us to do since we have a va here, the undersecretary responsible, the oversight committee, and authorizing committee, the contractor who's doing the work, is to come up with specific deliverables so that every person in attendance and watching the press for writing
about this leave with a very crystal-clear understanding of when this will be fixed, how would be fixed and the mechanisms by which we can hold one another accountable. i'll just add that in the reporting of it in the "washington post" the spokesman for the va blames the va committee. says we are not funded the va i.t. needs. if that's the case, i'm happy and hopefully can work with the chairman of the chairman's bill committee to enter do something on an emergency basis to get the funny necessary bit my distant is when we had authorized an appropriate with the va had asked for. if there's more we can do on our second note i'm all in. i would know exactly what that is right now. i have weeks left in my term for my service on this committee. i want to make the most of them. i think i speak for everyone in saying we're all frustrated and want to see something happen. let's use this meeting today to make that happen. so to whatever degree you can
strip down your testimony to the wind, the how and what to make sure we have precise deliverables, the more grateful i will be in the better chances will be able to deliver something to the veterans who are waiting on his right now. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank the ranking ranking md now invite a first and only panel to the table. but before i make those introductions i ask unanimous consent that our colleague mr. coffman and her colleague mr. bergman be allowed to sit at the dice and ask questions during today's hearing. without objection, so ordered. also want to again extend a special thanks to our chairman for being here and being engaged in this as well. with us today we welcome the honorable dr. paul lawrence, the undersecretary of benefits. dr. lawrence is accompanied by general robert worley, director of the eighth education service. mr. bill james, deputy assistant secretary for developing and operations of the office of information and technology and mr. jack galvin, associate
deputy assistant secretary for information technology operations and services at the va office of information and technology. we also welcome mr. richard crowe, senior vice president at booz allen hamilton. thanks again for being here folks. if you could please stand because like to begin by swearing you guys in. asking that you take an oath to solemnly swear under penalty of perjury that the testimony you are about to provide is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. if you would reply i do. thank you. please be seated. let the record reflects all witness answered in the affirmative. dr. lawrence, thank you again for being a prick you are not recognized for five minutes. >> good afternoon, chairman arrington, ranking member o'rourke, and members of the subcommittee. thank you for inviting us to today to discuss the augmentation of the forever g.i. bill. the forever g.i. bill requires we develop new software which
changes the way the monthly housing allowance paid, to develop and implement of a new software has not gone as planned. we did not meet the august first deadline and we're continuing to work on getting this right. let me explain this delayed briefly. historically, we've used the school system because identify the location. our software linked link the so the main campus of the school and use the facility code to identify the amount to be paid. the new legislation recognizes that a student could earn multiple credits at different locations. in addition to location such as branch campuses, this could include internships, extend ships and practicums, none of have facility codes. zip codes of publications were students credits were selected as a new way to identify these new locations.
zip codes were to be going into multiple existing systems which made the situation far more complicated than originally estimated. we are planning for the possibility that we may not have a new software ready for the spring semester. should that happen, will be prepared to process claims as we have been doing to ensure students will continue to receive their allowances and schools would see their tuition payments. we would continue to do that for as long as necessary. before i conclude i like to make three brief additional points. number one, to date since the passage of the forever g.i. bill we implemented 28 of the 30 privations due by the end of fiscal '18. this fall 450,000 veterans went to school using the g.i. bill. the allegations of widespread that pattern homelessness due to miss
payments is false. number two, , today with 73,000 claims in the work queue. not all involve payments. some are initial applications or change of programs, others involve payments to veterans, schools, or both pick on average on any given day only 1% of these claims are greater than 60 days old. we work closely and continuously to monitor and prioritize these claims carefully. number three, any veteran experience a hardship will receive expedited processing. they can do this by calling 188 g.i. bill one. we know the forever g.i. bill incredibly important to everyone. veterans, students, congress, vsos, the va and rbb 18. the first priority articulate when it came to vba is that in should earn the benefits come receive the benefit they earned. what they're expensive to the
general assembly high standard. our rva team is good to changin. thank you. this includes my testimony. for to answering questions the subcommittee has. >> thank a dr. lawrence. mr. crowe you are recognized for five minutes. >> good afternoon chairman arrington, ranking member of work and members of the subcommittee. i am richard crowe senior vice president at booz allen hamilton and the client service office for the hell to get there on pleased to be today to discuss the continued implementation of the veterans education assistance act of 2017. blue zones commit to serving our nation veterans is strong evidence in our culture. who's always sounded by veteran and we support the department of veterans affairs continuously since 1952. approximately one-third of those outings over 24,000 employees are military connected. that means they're either a veteran in the reserves, the
national guard or a military spouse. we invest heavily in helping our military connected employees through career building, benefits and formal military spousal support programs. booz allen kara-muza ports the documentation part of its contract with the department of veterans affairs for the benefits integration platform. booz allen role is a software developer will responsible for translating each of the va's identified requirements into software code. the va takes mapping and determine the results for each use case based upon the va's interpretation of the relevant statute, regulation, policy and business rules associate with the benefits programs themselves. this software developers it's our job to ensure the code produces the desired results. booz allen appreciate this opportunity to discuss the decision not to go live with the act section 107 and 501 updates by august 1 of this year. simply stated, then the fun of changes to the departments of business rules shifted way which housing allowances are paid in a
the introduce more variables the act provision or both new business rules, and new policy determinations by the va to meet the new law. as a result we rewrote 60% of the code for a long-term solution system. we were charged with modernizing. from our vantage point to other primary factors driving the timeframe for implementation of the revised rules have been the heaviness of server lines of the legacy i.t. systems outside of our control. as well as of the old age of the underlying i.t. systems. since no single database contains all the information required to assess benefits eligibility we must obtain the necessary data from four other via legacy i.t. systems. that are outside the booz allen contractual responsibility. we rely heavily on the va and its contractors with responsibility over the legacy systems to navigate the data integration challenges posed by the systems dependencies. from an h perspective many of
these underlying systems are passed, at, or very near their intended date of retirement. as a result we've had to program an elaborate set of interfaces to draw from these different and dated systems. these workarounds are time-consuming, data intensive and have required for the system design, coordinated testing and requirements for validation. in summary, from our perspective, the challenges we faced involve endeavoring to build something new on top of something very old. despite these challenges i would be remiss not to highlight many of the key successes of the new program. we've helped the v achieve greater efficiency and prevent best practices during this release process that will improve the overall efficiency of this process moving forward. further, in parallel to this effort we have been working with the va to implement the modernization plans in other areas that continue to drive toward the va's goals of a modern micro services-based-based technology stack. in short we've been hoping to be
reduce the obstacles encountered here for the benefit of all future modernization efforts and the esteemed veteran population we collectively service. i look forward to discussing the successes as well as of these challenges in greater detail to the subcommittee. for me there's nothing more professionally rewarding than helping the veterans affairs transponder technology as to make it easy for our nation veterans to access benefits earned and so richly deserve it would look for to continuing to provide support to the department of veterans affairs as the enhanced education benefits for veterans, servicemembers, families and survivors. did implementation of the act. thank you for the opportunity to testify before the subcommittee today. i look forward to your question questions. >> thank you, mr. colbert i know know you myself five minutes for questions. dr. lawrence or general worley, how many veterans, student veterans still not received a payment at this point? >> full payment works housing stipend, related payments.
>> mr. chairman, at this point i would characterize the pending inventory the work we talk about at 73,000 as a fairly normal and manageable work queue. there shouldn't be anybody at this point with late payments per se. were continue to work those we've heard have had hardships, and addressing those immediately. but we're relatively normal inventory today. >> so 73,000 student veterans have not received payment yet? >> no, sir. the 73,000 number, as dr. lawrence articulated, represents claims that could be one day old or greater than 60 days old. it's the whole range of our work queue that is the next claims examiners to work on. of those, you know, most of them are less than 30 days old. so that's the work queue people need to work on. some of those don't have all payments. there changes to program or
original claims that don't involve the payment, and others to involve claimants to schools were veterans. >> dr. lawrence, i heard the children talk about legacy system. i heard you talk but codes in zip codes and other codes. do you think the fact that there are antiquated systems in place, maybe a necessary maybe duplicative but certainly older systems, is that part of the problem? >> yes, sir. i think the problem is couple fold. tried to point them at opening statement sort of the new business problem that was introduced with the housing allowance. in addition, as mr. crowe pointed out, we're using legacy systems and it's not plug-and-play. it's very cold look at it. part of the reason mr. james is here to explain this and maybe you can jump in. >> sure. i'm putting up a chart, and that's basically the education
engine, if you will, the education i.t. engine. you can see all the different parts and pieces and boxes. the yellow box at the bottom in the middle, that's the lts box. that's the one that mr. crowe talking that were most of the booz allen work, in fact, all of it, has been focused on. but the surrounding boxes on that chart, on that engine, those are all the legacy, the old legacy components. some of them are 50 years old, for example. >> let me just ask because a good run out of time before he gets to that chart. the legacy issues, and boxes around there that are not plugging and playing with the fixes that mr. crowe and his outfitter are trying to implement to get this provision implemented, why are they legacy issues? what are those boxes not
up-to-date? i know that i been on this committee have two years that my first full term. we has been hundreds of millions of dollars on i.t. solutions. why are those still problematic? that's a lot of boxes around that yellow box. >> yes, chairman. that system is complex. that engine is old, and they speeded why is it? i guess my question is, if we've given the resources to the va to implement i.t. solutions that work so that we can get these good reform bills, these bipartisan reforms fixes and solutions to our veterans but they get stalled out on -- what do need if it's not hundreds of names of dollars that the taxpayers have so generously given you to serve the veterans, what else do you need? >> yes, i understand the question, chairman. we had a broad modernization effort in place called the benefits integration platform,
or bip, which was to modernize the engine from all the pieces on that engine. >> when? >> that was prior to passing the palmer actor when the act fast, what effectively happened was to be taken ltss the carburetor, the accent a, build a fuel injector with 450,000 parts that plugs into the engine. the rest of the engine hasn't been changed but the lts part is the modernization pic so we should from abroad to focus because at a deadline to achieve. >> with all that understood and the challenges that will recognize i'm sure early before we even ventured to implement this section, , this provision f the new g.i. bill, dr. lawrence and general worley, why give a timeline that said we would be ready for the fall or we would be ready in another 30 days? why not say we may never come it may be a year because of the legacy issues. you all should know when your
kind as this legislation that it may be a year before the veteran ever sees an efficient and limitation of this. after you answer that i'm going to then defer to my ranking member for five minutes and comments and questions you might have. >> that was unfortunate and you are correct, that was a mistake to give a date. we did that understand the certainty around it which is why now we're not giving you a date. so to address your concerns you will not leave this earth with the date. as we told in mid-september we were in the testing part of with this work and we would not give a date into it certainty in part based on her learning from the six as our understanding the problem had grown more complex. >> i would defer now to mr. ohr for five minutes. >> dr. lawrence, not very encouraging. i think in your testimony you failed to account for the scope of the problem, minimized the
problem and try to remind us that vb is doing great work in many cases what you don't think anyone here would contest. there's the very real problem that veterans who earn this benefit are not receiving the payment that they need to complete their education. i'd love just specifics and it will challenge you to give us a deadline here just because you all missed the deadline, even though we met with you two weeks before the deadline where i think you could have shown a look at more candor doesn't mean that you don't get to have a deadline going forward. that's a recipe for if i've ever heard one. how many veterans have outstanding payments greater than 30 days? >> ranking member o'rourke, i have a greater than 60 day. today it is 1000 claims that are pending over 60 days. as you can understand each day is a different number because
some go over 60 days, some get worked, many get worked. report many thousands of claims in the ballpark. we focus on the older claims, special over the last two months to make sure we get those down, and those numbers have come down over time. >> why do you not have over 30 days? why can't you give me that number? >> if you are giving a i might have it. >> seems like a question we would anticipate. we're trying, again, it's minimized by saying there's a lot of them are only a day old come two days old and the system. i think we get that. want to know is what the problem is with the universe of the problem is how you going to fix it. i'd love to know how we're going to help those who are waiting more than 60 days, which is 1000 you said. i'd love to know the number for greater than 30 days, how we're going to help them, passing wicklund help them, which are deadline is to help them. and in how we can be assured that those are were under 30 ds
will not be over 30 days going forward. what's the plan to do that? >> that looks like as of today we have a little over 10,000 that are between 31-60 day mark. the plan for is to continue our overtime work, continue to have the improved processing provided by 200 additional processors. we're focusing as us on the old work first. we handle hardships as they come in and that's the ongoing effort that we've gone through since october, or since the peak of this fall, which was 207,000 200 claims on september 14. we've reduced the inventory by 64%. so we've brought it down continuously since that time. we are in normal processing range now and our timeliness is very close to our target which
is 28 days for original claims and 14 days for supplemental claims. >> general worley, and the backup i received we show a 27% increase in pending and products as compared to the previous year on this date piggies that was a comparable caseload. is that 27% increase correct? >> it is correct, mr. o'rourke. and i which is characterized that by saying a normal come in the past five, secures actually sends automation was put into place with long-term solution in september of 2012, our peak periods in the fall and in the spring are manageable peaks. there are some of between 100-1 and 50,000 is will be get to the peak. yes, there's a few days additional in our timeliness but people don't miss payment for the most part. when i say we are manageable today, even though it's 27%-last year, i give we're in a 73,000 range right now of our work
queue and that something that we can maintain our timeliness with the work force we have. >> do you have an idea of how y students have not been able to enroll in classes because they're not receive tuition payments? you mention hardship cases. that would fall into that category or urgent cases. >> most of the urgent cases we received seem the issues relating to housing or potentially the fiction. we received very few what i would call confirmed cases of anyone actually being evicted and very few actually i don't know of any cases where someone has come to my attention were some of has not been able to enroll in school. we went out to the schools asking them to understand that it he would be paid and to not take, not to penalize the veterans going to their schools. >> thank you. >> thank the ranking member and not recognized our chairman dr. phil roe for five minutes. >> i will yield --
>> the chairman now yield five minutes to mr. bilirakis. >> hanky. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. chairman. appreciate it very much. dr. lawrence, these problems have been ongoing since the beginning of the semester. we're almost at the end of the fall semester. most students and schools are already planning for spring semester. it's my understanding the va will have to go back, we work and verify hundreds of thousands of claims once the lts modifications are complete. what steps is the va taking to ensure that the reworking of these claims will not have a lasting impact on spring semester claims? >> you have it exactly right, with a new soccer works will have to go back and we conclude everybody who was in fall and have to do the reconciliation he spoke about. in our modeling what we saw to do is figure out how we will balance that with the spring semester so we don't have the problems we ran into that mr. worley just described.
our anticipation is that when it goes live we will sit down and to the competitions you're describing to think of how it does not affect the spring semester. that's great. >> what one of the as far as modifications on january 1? >> i'm sorry? >> as far as the modifications, where do you expect to be let's say on january 1 the beginning of next semester? >> right now given where we are in the testing process and our inability to understand exactly when the testing would be complete, i'm underestimating t now which be subject to our continued to do be testing thee will be processing manual will not have done those reconciliations yet. so that will be your backup plan? >> i will be the plan will execute pending the completion of the software. >> there's so much uncertainty among our students, our heroes, our veterans. given the delays that have already occurred picky expect the same type of delays we saw
earlier this year? as a follow-up -- go had come to expect the type of delays we saw of this year? >> no, i do not expect the phillies in the spring. in the fall what happened was what waited for the technology which did not arrive at your been kind enough to point out. we allowed the school to enroll and receive all the work we would happen to the late summer and early fall at one time. this caused a backlog that went to the delays and of you and hs described. presently when not planning to wait. if we do know that the software and place it will open enrollment for the spring semester and will happen just like described, for in normal cadence and will manage it like we've always done and will be a regular process. the communications will be, again, a regular and consistent explaining this to everybody. >> okay. i have a bill, h.r. 4230 the past the house and what it does is take pressure off the veterans and make sure that the
universe is whether their vocational universities community colleges to help the pressure on the veterans as i understand they have been to a certain extent. putting pressure on them to get loans to pay off. i know what type of housing allowances as well but tuitions and i recommend the senate move on it quickly goes i do want to the pressure on. they've got enough problems transition into the private sector. and again we got to do everything for our veterans. i don't know what your opinion is on that particular bill, but you're welcome to give it if you would like. >> i understand we supported. we. >> anything that helps veterans. very good. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. bilirakis. the chairman now used by this to mr. takano. >> thank you, mr. chairman. before this invite a chance to review the transcript of the lasting we had on this issue in july where chairman svinicki repeatedly asked the va it
everything it needed to be ready in time. and answer was that despite the heavy lift, the a was prepared for any glitches. obviously that was not the case. it was a huge bipartisan effort to make these changes to better serve veterans and to make sure that we gave the everything they asked for. so it is frustrating to be here, and as chairman arrington said, resources were offered and have been given in copious amounts. so it's frustrating to be here look at this massive failure after everything that this committee in congress did. dr. lawrence, , it seems to me that ultimately all of these problems stem from an i.t. failure. whether it's aging infrastructure, bandwidth issues, inadequate user
scenarios that you provided to booz allen. it all comes back to i.t. we are in a mess of, because he i.t. doesn't work. is that a fair characterization? >> a couple comments. it's frustrating for all of us, not just you and that site of the table. we know it's frustrating for veterans. everybody is working very hard. i.t. is no doubt part of what we do is very complicated thing that we're undertaking the analogy of the carburetor. i.t. plays a large component but it's a group effort. >> wait a minute. what parts i.t. and what part is the group? the group effort is we have to translate the requirements into -- we had to run the test carefully. we have to review amateur we understand the different scenarios and give the i.t. right. >> if i might just interrupt. it's not antiquated machinery. it's not speedy it's all part of it. >> it's all part of it.
so there's a management component. there was a project management issue by the team. >> that's correct. >> but ultimately i.t. it's all sort of in the realm of i.t. whether it's the personal related to i.t. or the machines that are out of date or the misguidance that was given to your contractor. so given that it's all in the i.t. space can you are here from educational services, right. >> was under and of benefits. >> okay, benefits. my question is why isn't the head of the va i.t. here? what is in here to explain or take accountability or responsibility for the failure? >> i work very close with mr. sandoval turkey suggested mr. james and jack show up because of the relationship with software which he thought would be what the book about we talk about today. >> still, he is the guy with the buck stops. i don't understand why he is not here.
i don't expect you have an answer but i just want out, mr. chairman, that i am befuddled as to why an i.t. debacle, you send the project managers but you don't send the person for whom the major responsibility his shoulder relies. during the modernization board meeting last right to education services teams asked if there was anything that could've been done differently to have prevented this from happening, and the answer was no. that answer implies that he does not believe that that in any ms or did anything wrong. i don't know how va could represent that in that meeting with somebody student veterans have been harmed so subverted by these failures? i i like to ask you today, if you're to start this process again what would you have done differently? just beyond not telling the committee that you could've gotten this done by a certain deadline. >> a couple of things. at the modernization board, remember that with said composer peter twomey, i was not at the
meeting i was working on that, in front of us now. i wish what this it is we haven't had time yet to digest the full range of experience -- >> but what your team. >> i understand. what he wished it was said, we've been so focused on completing the pop at hand we have enough time digest the whole range an answer that question speedy let me switch up my question because, mistakes are made, people make mistakes, but going forward in order to get, i know you don't want to give us a timeline, but i think i want to challenge you as the recognized challenge you to come up with a timeline, what do we need to do? what do you need from us? anything more you need from us? it's embarrassing. i think it's embarrassing for you to made ask after all we've given you, but what do we need to do? what do we need to support you in making this right? >> i would just say, congressman, in terms of what to do differently, as dr. lawrence
described the reason we had the high peak numbers for the fall was that planning on a successful i.t. deployment in july, we told schools to hold their enrollments with multiple campuses involved. so as to avoid extra work for both the schools and the va. when we released the ability for them, told him to go ahead and send it in july, we get six months of work in about two months. so one think the thing we're going to use up to that again for the spring semester, to make sure that we have a normal flow of receipts through the spring and we can address them. if i could take one more minute to illustrate the complexity of the section five oh one and one owe seven. under section 501(c~) of you have three student sitting in a classroom all g.i. bill students going to same place at the same time getting three different housing allowances just as relates to section five oh one because when they started to use
benefits. out on top of that if the three of them were taking a majority of the classes in different locations come yet again that have different housing allowance. these are some of the kinds of scenarios that make this a very complex album to fall. >> mr. chairman, i apologize for going over. i yield back. >> thank you, thank you, mr. ta. i now yield five minutes the german from indiana, mr. banks. >> thank you, mr. chairman i appreciate you attend this hearing and take responsibility for these problems which seems to hinge on legacy system integration issues. without a doubt everyone main concern is a student veterans receive the benefits they have earned and that the lights are not disrupted. but i'm also concerned with why the system glitches keep happening. many of va's i.t. systems are decades old come to disjointed and written it out where software languages. the related educational and
housing benefit systems are more the rule than the exception. mr. james and mr. galvin, i've not had the opportunity to meet you yet, but but i know it wilt surprise you that this is very silly to issues that we are examining with the technology modernization subcommittee. mr. crowe, as you know your company is the lead support contractor to va in the ehr modernization program. i am concerned that va doesn't seem to have the capacity or maybe the strategy in place to handle these modernizations. you seem to die then without a solid understanding -- died in -- and touch points in these legacy systems. you wind up in thinking and reinventing the plans of the project every single time. as if no one looks under the hood of these systems for years and years until suddenly you are in their rewiring them like we are today. we have to build up the capacity
and change the strategy or this will happen again and again and again. i think the i.t. system for the caregiver expansion is probably next. so to get to my question, dr. lawrence, the is contract with booz allen a regular required the quote, , each build shall be three months or less. that means delivering a completed functional piece of software every three months. maybe not the entire software package but a a piece that cane used. but in april of this year va and booz allen agreed to change the contract language by adding quote, unless otherwise agreed upon by the government and the contractor. why did you do that? >> i'm going to defer to bill because is closer to the i.t. contract. >> congressman, i don't have the details on the why that happened it like to take that for the record to understand, to give you a perfect answer. >> okay.
that's the answer i expected. when the original deadline our expectation when the system modification template section 107, when was the original deadline for expectation of when the system modification section 107, would be completed? what was your original -- >> our original plan was july 16 to deploy the software, and as we testified in july, at that time we had realized -- >> so july 2018? >> yes, sir. >> what did the va already know in april that motivate you to undo the requirements that software be delivered in three months? >> congressman, i don't have an answer for that. >> that's what i expected, too. the language i quoted clearly does pertain to the work that we're discussing today. it comes from my item 4001 in your contract yet so far find it
as $69 million. do you want to comment on that? >> funded at, 69 million felt line item count is at your suggestion? >> et cetera anderson as well. >> with i don't know about the budget for the funding for but i believe we paid out 647,000 to date on that line item. >> okay. we'll dig into the even more. so mr. chairman, i think this might be a what did they know and when did they know what type of question. and i've got more questions for round two but with that i yield back. >> thank you mr. banks. we now yield five minutes to mr. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you for holding this most important hearing and as a blessing to all of this, i'm asking myself and the committee, are we destined to live with these i.t. failures irrespective of how much money, taxpayer dollars we invest,
trying to take care of our men and women who are coming back after serving our country? gentleman, this last week and i was at an opening of a veteran center in my district, chapman university. young man coming back from fighting for our country ready to get their education, and i'll tell you, walking in with this scenario, it's kind of embarrassing. it's shameful to me. anything to us. you talk about a teamwork, talk about your schematics, teamwork. i hope we are part of the team when it comes to executing, so give us a july 16 deadline to come up with some solutions. i understand this is i.t., very complex as you said. but against if we are part of the team why did take the committee staff, i visit by the committee staff to oklahoma to figure out that something was
going on? something was not going right? why didn't that information, why was that not conveyed to this committee that things were not on schedule? >> since i arrived and make part of what i've been doing is working closely with what other text-only technology challenges we face. where identified that latency in the connectivity to our offices was a problem. working with a white teeth we first started by dealing with the way we communicate -- oit -- the pipes to the offices. expanded those. that didn't work we noticed the software still locked up as your staff discovered a we were in the process of examining why the software conflicted when your team went to visit. what they saw is what we knew was going on and what we were working on. it would be inaccurate to say that isn't motivated as to do with the because we are already dealing with it. let me -- >> but their visit was way this
committee was made informed of the fact that things were not going well. i'm not saying you're hiding it from us but you didn't tell us answer not going right. >> i think in a regular conversations with you we focus on the software development and to think we really almost weekly to explain to your team what we were doing. i believe the agenda was an hour long and a focus on software development act. that was not included in the agenda. it was an oversight speed is if we don't include in the agenda, should you bring it up to our attention? >> those are standard challenges. i would not be bringing those two because we were dealing with those so you're part of the team that we would ask on a quarterly thought speed is the situation where students been challenges and in your words you think it's false that any of the stint of having -- >> no, sir. your team saw us struggling to process. what they admitted and was pointed out, five-minute task
was taking 45 minutes. students were not suffering that we were processing. >> to your knowledge they are not suffering? >> i said people suffer because of the backlog that mr. worley described. but what a chainsaw was a five-minute task taking 45 minutes. that was our internal issue we were working. >> should our teams also go to buffalo and st. louis to see if there are any issues? >> there are the same issues that we've addressed the same way first public on the bandwidth and then by deconflict in the software. >> if we are to work as a team, and yet we don't have this information, how can we be a better team? >> i'm perplexed about the lack of information. we regularly send your staff with reports that you're welcome to delve into and i am pursley happy to come brief you on what you're seeing. you are seeing what our leaders are seeing in terms of our operational performance. i'll be happy to come sit in a talk you through it. >> i'd love to have you come
talk to the committee and essentially tell us those issues which you believe are coming forth. what are the challenges that are not being met, so to speak. >> i'm happy to. >> mr. chairman, i yield. >> and you, mr. correa. now recognize mr. mast for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman burr let's move any other direction of people not being paid. how many people do you anticipate are going to disruptions in the lives as a result of being overpaid because of miscalculations? >> thank you for the opportunity to address that. because of the lack of our i.t. implementation, so we're paying incorrect housing to our beneficiaries. depending on when they started school, , some of those beneficiaries are receiving about $69 more than the should be getting because we haven't applied the new dod rate to
them. others were existing students already are not seeking about a 1%, less than 1% increase that was implemented with the deity rates, that should've been implemented august 1. so we don't have the breakup of the exact numbers on which of those, which is which, but as we've said, we will not go back and try to recover the overpayments once the ipv6 is in, and and where we underpaid our beneficiaries, we'll make them all at the time the i.t. fix it goes. .. under any those
situations of the numerous complex situations that you said can exist in any given classroom, are there any situations in which you plan to claw back dollars? >> we will not claw back anything related to our lack of implementing sections 107 and 501, sir. >> have you written any letters alerting students to the fact that they may be being overpaid as we speak and you do not plan to claw back dollars from them? >> through september and october, we sent nearly an e-mail a week to 35,000 schools and over 300,000 students telling them about the payment delays and letting them know that we would not, again, not establish debts against them. >> let's move in a slightly different direction. you said already you don't intend to indicate the completion date, that it's very complex, again. can you tell us a little about the testing that's going on right now? how much of a priority is this testing? how many people do you have working on this issue? >> we've turned over the least
candidate 27 on november 7th, user acceptance testing is being conducted by the va. as far as the staffing levels, user accepting testing, that's a va process. >> mr. lawrence, how many people are working on testing? >> i think in total, including the contractors and the va, we're about 100 people involved right now today, you know, testing, coding, fixing, working on all that software. >> all day? that's clair sole function, working all day. >> sir, we're working through the weekend on this. >> through the weekends as well? >> yes. >> is there a school you're currently testing where there's live it he is-- testing going on to say it's working? >> the way we're doing it, sir, subject matter experts from the
va take the software through its paces and they're really pushing it through real world scenarios. i have software developers-- >> where are the real world scenarios, dr. lawrence? >> they're written in user testing cases, they model behavior that students would be doing as rob pointed out the different variations and we use them to test the software as the results are as expected to do. and when they don't go as expected to do we go back and-- >> there are schools live tested? >> these are user -- these are use cases that we've developed so they're tested in our testing environment. they're based on the experience that students would have. >> so there could still be problems once you put them in the live environment of various different schools around the country depending on what their i.t.-- how their i.t. structure-- >> that's what we're trying to avoid which is why this testing period is so timed. we have a series of use cases that we want to pass so when
what you're describing happens, it's such a small percentage of the total we're able to deal with that. >> one more question. mr. crowe, is there an additional bill coming from booz, allen hamilton for the extra testing and man hours and extra people you have to get to work on these people? >> so, today for section 501 and 107 we haven't-- we're following on with the veteran. >> do you anticipate additional bill. >> for the functionality, no. if there's additional functionality, we'll have to address it then. >> i yield back. >> and recognize chairman rowe for five minutes. >> one of the things the va has gotten right, they've named the long-term solution, right,
that's appropriate. it's going to take a long time to get to the solution, it looks like. let me put this in real terms. young soldier with a two-year-old, probably not three figures in the bank account, probably not three figures, not four, but probably not three with a 1974 used dodge colt with a straight stick shift looking for the gi bill and that was me and i got the money on time without the computers, without the nonsense, i got a sense from the va, not a single hickup. 1975. and today, with all this tech nothing, and millions and millions and millions of dolla dollars, amazon has by june of this year, excuse me, by august this year, i know because a country in my district makes them, sent out a billion
articles to people and i think got exactly right. that's the frustration i have, we've spent all this money and time and we can't get a paycheck out to somebody. and mr. kreb brought up, something i want to follow up along, how many claims have we actually gotten right as of right now when the school is in session, we've done-- i know you guys have done hundreds of thousands of them, how many have been done right, correctly. how many schools got the right numbers? how many veterans-- how many students got the right check in. >> chairman, roe, literally thousands upon thousands of our beneficiaries have received payments ontime. >> and correct? >> well, not for housing the new rates are in the system. some are getting paid over a little bit, some are a little bit-- >> then let's go to that. because of this i.t. failure, this is not only -- i mean, the
federal g.i. bill is a tremendous bill, i think both sides of the aisles can take pride in that and the country can since world war ii. i know i appreciated what i got in 1975, appreciative of that. helped me and my family a lot. a lot of these people that i had no money sweating the end of the month and sweating can i keep my apartment, am i going to have enough to feed my kids and so forth. how much money have we spent instead of getting those benefits to students in overtime and i.t.? that's what i want to know, how much money have we spent implementing this because the system didn't work? and i want to follow that up, mr. crowe, with this question to you. what is your assessment of an lts modification? and do you believe that you have delivered the product that you're required to produce? >> thank you, sir.
we delivered on july 27th, we delivered release candidate 18, which satisfied the requirements at the time we were asked to deliver. and at that time we believed it to be, based on our understanding of the software, defect-free. when the va was testing, user acceptance testing began in june. they're continuing to do testing. we were marching towards an august 1st delivery date and what, you know, subsequent testing identified new issues with the software around variations of these user cases and mr. mast mentioned different permtations of different housing. the va took a pause to assess requirements and see if there was 83 new user cases which we dealt to. we delivered that software on november 7th and released candidate 27. that has been under testing since november 7th.
as of 2:53 today there are no critical defects with that software. >> and mr. james, you've been given the testing for a week or two, why is not system not ready? are there other defects in there that they need to fix? >> that module may be ready from the perspective of meeting specifications, but what happens now is that the surrounding modules that we saw on that diagram they now have to be changed to get the bugs out. that, you know, are reflective of the new carburetor we just installed. so, there are issues in one of those systems called va-1 and issues in weems discovered in user testing end of october. so that surroundings systems have to be fixed and once you fix those you'll have to
regression test the model that rich just talked about. >> we have no earthly idea when this is going to be ready, and so i guess the thing -- the take away i want for students watching or in school today, what can they expect mid january when they go back to class after the christmas break, when they go candidates can we sit here with a straight face and tell the students, your school is going to get paid and you're going to get your check in a timely fashion? can we say that to them now today? >> the answer to at that question is yes. as pointed out, what you're doing as long as the software is not done is the new housing allowance perfe allowance per the new bill. you're getting a payment, it's the old payment, you're going to school and the payment will be paid. i yield back. i'm sorry for going over. i want to know how much this overtime and payment that we're
now going to claw back costs the taxpayers. >> thank you mr. chairman. if i can go back, dr. lawrence, to what you just mentioned and the old payment versus the new payment. the old payment versus the location. institution, the school, versus the new payment which is far more complicated, could be multiple institutions, each with varying amounts, but what you said was that that receiving payment on the old system, but my concern is know the institution, not the school, but it's the veteran on the housing side, in particular.
usually i know property management firms being in the business, five payments via the payment of rent and these are renters, they're not-- i went to school on the g.i. bill, not home owners and so tell me about -- let's drill down on the housing component of this, actually the living component of this because it's more than just housing, to the veteran. and are they-- so when you talk about the old payment versus the new payment, are they receiving the old payment though on a timely basis? >> yes, that's what we've been describing. the and this is where he talked about the new rates are on average 1% higher. so you're getting the old rates, okay, using the old computation. in addition we've been very concerned about exactly the situation you're describing, which is why we identified expedited route to get
payments. we work with bso's, your staff to identify anybody who would say i'm in a hardship situation. we found about a thousand of those people. and we'll tell you every time we've looked where someone said, there's widespread activity where people-- we found that not to be true. so, we are very concerned about this. and are trying to get people paid exactly for that reason. we're not finding that systematically happening. >> okay. but certainly i admit that the-- i've not received the volume of complaints in my office, but we certainly have read press stories about individuals not receiving anything on the housing side. why don't you comment on that. >> we've looked at those stories, sir, and it's hard to speak more broadly, but i would talk specifically, we've gone and found those, they're generally not true. we've tried -- we have no confirmed cases of people being evicted. there's a story today in "the
washington post" that cites three veterans. we know the story of those three veterans. i cannot share them with you because it's personal information, but i'm more than happy to do so in private and that story misrepresents the facts. >> okay. so that it's the delta between the old system and the new system that they're not getting on a timely basis? >> that's correct. >> okay. so, but one thing, going back that i have a concern about, and hopefully we'll get this corrected going forward. how did this happen where we come up with legislation and we're relying upon the expertise of the department of veterans aareas to tell us whether or not the implementation date, the effective date of the legislation is realistic or not. and so, the congress of the united states was not given accurate information as to the implementation. how did that happen?
>> i mean, we rely on you to opine in hearings like this. i mean, you're given the va, the department of veterans affairs is always given an opportunity to comment on every single bill before this committee, and your support and whether you support it, whether you don't support it, whether it's realistic on the implementation side or not realist take on the implementation side. could you comment on that? >> if i could take that one, sir. >> you're exactly right. we've-- as you know, first of all, the forever g.i. bill, the set of provisions was put together in record time and passed into law and signed into law in record time. when we commented on those provisions in support of the legislation, that we tell, you know, we tell you all that, which provisions require significant i.t. work 0. and so, i would suggest to you
that we typically say we need at least a year or about a year to do i.t. work. we don't issuely project beyond that because at the time we review these provisions we're not sure exactly of the complete requirements that might go with it. so, i would just-- >> what do you mean you're not sure about the complete requirements? how can you say that? >> well, i would say that until you delve into the code as we've described, you may not appreciate, especially when it comes to the housing calculation fundamental in the depths of the long-term solution, how many scenarios you could have. once the provisions are passed we spend time with the counsel and staffs making sure we understand the intent of congress and various interpretations we might have to make as we implement this will. and we did that with the comari act. so there's discussion between
the time we've commented and supported legislation and give you views and costs to the time it gets implemented. >> i think there's just a disconnect here. mr. crowe, i mean, as a controversial, an i.t. professional, i assume you are, couldn't you assess the complexity of this and how long it would take for its implementation? >> thank you for the question. we're software developers and we rely on the va for subject matter expertise in defining what the user requirements are. we defer to them for defining the policy, the rules, the statutes and defining what the user cases are and so we lean on them. this is one team, all right. we work very closely with them in requirement collaboration starting in january through april, defining 11 of the 27 cases we continue to work on. we continue to refine cases additional 16 cases between april, indeed, all the way up
to july 12th with user cases of scenarios. to your question, mr. coffman, when user testing occurred there are many, many-- i guess the user acceptance testing realize there were many, many scenarios they hadn't accounted for so i would not be able to look into the future. we rely on the va. >> if i can quote from this, the trump administration promised to clear up the incompetence inside the va and based on this testimony today and other hearings we've had, i don't think they've made a lick of difference. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. coffman, i agree wholeheartedly and i associate myself with that comment and hope to elaborate on it before the hearing is over. the chairman recognizes and fields to mr. bergman, general
bergman. thank you, mr. chairman. it's been interesting to watch the game of whack-a-mole continue on and we're all involved, because as the committee, we are trying to take the mallet of fiscal, you know, capability and give it to the va as the different moles, you know, whack-a-moles pop up. and we watch you deal with the different software challenges. my concern, if i can articulate it, is that if we don't to the 80 plus percent level agree on what the parameters are and the problems we're trying to solve, knowing that technology is going to change and what we have is cutting edge technology today, tomorrow is going to be legacy, which we're going to spend more money funding when
the rate of technology changes to the point where now do we have to spend more money keeping up with the rate of technological change? that's one of the challenges any business has, when you look at defense, special when you're looking at things from the weapons systems and all of that. rate of technology change is always going to play a factor. what we're asking you, i believe, is give us that 80% level of change. you're only going to live in so many zip codes, only going to talk so many courses. give us the 80% level and have the parameters set so that when you get it right to the 80% level, then the other 20% that is going to occur naturally, we minimize the continual cash outlay. we minimize the pain to the veterans that can occur just
through a glitch. and one of the challenges we have is that when you try to pay your credit card personally, if you can't do it on-line, what have you got to do? probably got to write a check, right? because you want to get it paid and you don't want to pay the extra fee for a late payment. somehow the va has to have something in place to have that ability to help that veteran get that payment in a timely manner. when the eventually glitch comes. again, you're talking a small percentage, but we have to have that backup capability. it should not be our goal to -- so, would anybody at the table care to basically respond to my comment, are we going to be able to get the 80% level correct so we're not chasing legacy, new technology, new
technology and continuing to have to have mr. crowe and his software developers keep after that? >> yes, congresswoman. i think you articulated the modern way of doing software which is define success upfront and then work at that in bite sized pieces. build a little, test a little, deploy a little. that's what we need to get to to get out of this vicious cycle of maintenance and legacy software that we're in today. there's a whole modernization effort that needs to update all of those boxes on that chart to get to that level of modern, you know, software development. we're doing it today on this lts piece and we need to do it with the other pieces on that chart. so-- >> thank you. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> thank you, general bergman. i'm going to go for another round of questions for the members that want to stay and yield myself five more minutes
and ask general worley-- i must say i've been impressed with you since i've taken this job and i appreciate your professionalism. i have a sense of your sincere commitment to the veterans. do you have control over the i.t. system software design, development, overall i.t. services? is that in your bailiwick? >> no, sir, not the development. >> this implementation, is that your job? >> my job in this development, any development is to define the user requirements and provide those. >> have you done those? >> we've done that-- >> do you think they're clear, the user requirements? did they receive those and-- >> we believe they were complete and clear. >> the breakdowns on the i.t.
side you're a customer of your ceo and operation within the va, a fairway to describe it? >> that's correct. >> are you happy with the service? are you ecstatic? are you average? are you so-so or just really fed up and as exasperated and almost depressed you're having to come to the hearing over this issue? >> as mr. lawrence pointed out we're ought frustrating-- >> here is what's frustrating, if i may. what's frustrating we feel powerless up here because we've given you money, we've given you the authority, we have asked repeatedly for anything else if there are barriers that we're unaware of to remove. so, i can't fire the-- i don't know who he is, i've never seen him, you know, mark, great point, i don't know who he is. i don't think we have one. i think you have an acting. i think you've had an acting for a while and there's also a
sort of repeated response, we don't have one, this person's been acting and only been on the job, but there's the continuity of leadership is a real problem at the va. i think we would all acknowledge that, but we feel powerless to do anything. i can't fire anybody. i can ask you who is responsible and have they been and should they be. the veterans, i think so, i feel powerless there's not local va to go to if you're not serving them. you can't go to the next corner to the va that provides the same benefit. they're trapped, trapped in a monopoly, in this bureaucracy and they can't get out of it. so that's why we're all frustrated, but who is ultimately responsible for this dysfunction across the board, the legacy, yadda, yadda, yadda that we heard. ultimately who is responsible for that. is it general worley, mr. undersecretary? >> let me describe
responsibility. making sure that veterans receive checks under the g.i. bill. mr. worley works with me on that. and we work closely with i.t., and they're responsible for the contract with booz, allen, hamilton. >> somebody has got to be ultimately accountable. if all of you are accountable, nobody's accountable. you have to define the need, set the expectations, put the user requirements and articulate them. i'm assuming this has been done. this is an i.t. issue and again, it is-- it feels like an exercise in futility, just about every program and every good intention of this committee, where we're trying to solve a problem and serve our veterans and then it's just more i.t. rigamarole and legacy this, that and the other.
and brokenness and dysfunction. i feel like there's a leadership issue. i feel like there's a lack of strategic management. i don't feel there's a plan for ar-- architecturely that-- yes or no. >> i don't have context for you to respond to the broad question-- >> you have better context and you're here before this committee. do you believe that it's broken fundamentally and dysfunctional? because booz, allen i have nor confidence in his expertise. he uses the word legacy, that's a nice way of saying it's old, antiquated and didn't work well and i'm doing the best i can with this old, antiquated systems that we've spent hundreds of millions of dollars and expecting you would change it. >> i would not describe the process we're going through on this project only. >> host: okay. >> where we are--
>> mr. crowe, you've seen a lot of organizations, public and private, no doubt. how bad, scale of one to ten, ten being the worst, relative to others that you've worked with, and i understand you do a lot of business, probably billions of dollars with the va from what i'm told. i know this is going to be tough to muster the courage here to just say it like it is, but you've seen the boxes in the dysfunction. we put it on the screen and nobody here knows what that means except those boxes aren't working together. how bad is it one to ten relative to your other customers? >> well, it's a good question. i would say that the legacy i.t. systems in the va are very complex. it's the second largest agency in the united states behind the department of defense and not surprisingly it has a very complex system. the other thing i would point out as many of these systems-- >> so are you telling me it's
the nature of the va, the complexity of the va itself is the disaster of the legacy systems that you described, or is it the fact that there's not a real i.t. architecture plan and effective implementation of that architecture and plan? >> well, i can't speak to the entire va since i'm not familiar with every i.t. system in the va. >> you're familiar with a lot of it because you all do a lot of work with the va, correct. >> we do. >> my colleague told me billions of dollars. do you think it's over a billion? >> i can get back to you on that. >> i was told it was two billion, roughly two to three. that's a lot of work, man. i hope you know that customer well. i've gone over my time, way over my time. i still have questions, but i don't even know if we have time and i want to respect everybody's time here. i still have questions and i'm hoping one of my colleagues
will continue with this. mr. ranking member. five minutes. >> thank you. >> plus or minus. >> approximate. >> so just, in my opening comments i was hoping to have clarity where we are and how we fix some of the outstanding issues. we have 11,000 claims over 30 days, a thousand of those are over 60 days. general worley do we have an estimation for a number of claims over 90 days? >> as you were finding that, i am just going to confirm what seems to be inferred, which is that this system's not going to be ready for the spring semester. you haven't out and out said it, but said it. if i'm incorrect in stating that, correct me. general worley said though the system will not be ready we will be able to avoid delays because we've already concluded that the system will not be ready and we're geared up to receive those claims as though the system were not ready. so we're not going to have additional delays.
my understanding to the question asked by chairman roe, we're $4 million in in additional overtime to mr. bank's line of questioning, is that on the contractor, if the delivery was not received at the deadline, agreed to in the contract, is the taxpayer going to eat every additional million dollar of over time or is that something the contractor's going to pick up. who is on the line for the overspending we're seeing right now? >> i can address that, ranking member o'rourke. >> quickly, if you could, because i have another question. >> put into context, we do most of the time voluntary overtime and my budget for voluntary overtime in education is 6 million a year, we needed 2 million more to get through august and september to do this work. again, this is mandatory, we're pulling out the stops and in a normal year we do voluntary overtime for the surge periods to maintain our time limits. >> i would submit if the system were working and delivered on
time you would not have had to consume that overtime for this project and it could have been applied to something else. there's got to be other need if you have that budget line there, but i'm going to move on to other questions. mr. undersecretary. when will the system be ready? >> i don't have a date for you at this point, sir. what i tried to explain is we're in the process. it's not a dysfunctional process. and the testing and evaluating. when we've completed that we will have a date and we told you we'd tell you right away. >> what's the total additional cost incurred over what was budgeted for the system including the overtime, the 4 million? >> i don't know the total. >> we should know that and i'm submitting that for the record and love for you to get back this committee within a week. what additional costs do you project taking on in order to get in system ready? >> i'll take that for the record. >> okay, we'd love to have that within a week. general worley, you mentioned
claimants being completed on time. what does on time mean? under 30 days? >> our targets for original claims, which is the original application is 28 days, historically we've done much, much better than that and for supplemental claims, and historically in the single digits. and 92 today, there are 92 claims. >> over 90 days, thank you for that. and when will you resolve those 92 claims, the thousand claims over 60 days, and the 10,000 additional claimants that are over 30 days? >> we work those every day. the reason they're that old primarily is because we're awaiting information either from the veteran, from the school or from the department of defense, we've worked the department of defense to get us the service information and we have a worked those and worked those off. they'll never get to zero because you'll always have development for those claims. >> are you saying that from your side of the pro em you all have done as much as you can
and you're waiting responses back from the veterans or the educational institution or some other third party? >> in those cases, yes, but we don't just sit around and wait. we, you know, re-ask the questions and we have systems to communicate with the dod and others, to try to get the answers that we need so we can process the claims. >> okay. and then do you need-- this is something the chairman. subcommittee was asking, do you need additional authorization or appropriation? is there anything from our end that you need? >> at this time, and i'm sharing of the frustration of the committee. this isn't a funding issue, we appreciate the support of the committee. this isn't a people issue, we've hired more people to work this, this is an issue of getting to the software. >> something that just came in,
columbia university is limiting veterans students ability to register for the spring. if they have the delayed g.i. bill payments and i haven't checked the veracity. folks have been getting in touch with us on social media saying this is the case. i guess those are my outstanding questions, mr. chairman. and some of them we're waiting on the undersecretary to get back to us, i've asked that they be received within a week. these should be things we know how much we've spent over the projected amount and we should have a good estimate of what we're going to spend going forward or we're in greater trouble than we thought. >> i couldn't agree more, thank you for the lining of questioning. questioning now, i recognize mr. banks for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. crowe, is it true that since august when this system was supposed to go live, that you've received an additional 80 user cases from the va which are the requirements that the
software need to perform, and if so, how have these requirements impacted the timely delivery of modifications to lts? >> sure, as dr. lawrence said earlier, there was a pause taken in august to take a look at the functionality and if every user case was accommodating all the many different variations that you can have through comari. from time of implementation, we can turn around overnight and we went from, you know, working with the va, we would turn these around fairly quickly and we went from release code, i think it was 18 in august and july, we're at release code 29 right now. so, it's 11 different release codes. we use agile development and we kind of on a iterative basis, if there's something over the shoulder, a defect or any issue
we're doing real-time patches and as we say we delivered release candidate 27 on november 7th. it's been in testing and there's been no issues that i'm aware of, but we continue to do-- >> let me cut through all that. so 83, since august? >> that was the result of the pause, and it was because there was many different-- >> but you said 27 before that? >> we received -- we worked on 11 that came in january through april time friame. there were 16 additional. and we finalized the 27th on july 20th or i think it was july 12th we received and then we turned that around very quickly and able to get a release candidate into the va's hand by the 27th. >> thank you, mr. james, the contract is to deliver software, but strictly speaking, it buys scrum teams, which are teams of software developers who do software
development sprints. you have been adding scrum teams throughout the year. how many scrum teams and software development sprints are you up to now? >> congressman, i don't have the exact number so let me take that for the record. i think it was -- we started with two, we added two, i think we added two more, but, you know, i need to get the exact number for you. >> so you can't tell us how many scrum teams? >> not off the top of my head how many scrum teams are in action today. >> or how many people at all would be necessary to get this done? >> the development teams that are working in charleston, that's what you're referring to as the scrum teams. that's the actions and the software folks there and the booz allen hamilton facility. what happens after that, as software is built, then it has
to get tested. there are-- so in terms. scrum teams, as rich crowe just mentioned, they're able to turn around the software in response to user's testing and bugs and use other scenarios and so forth, but that's just step bown r one. now you have to go test that software. it happens in different processes and in different locations with the engagement of the users. so, the fact is that our testing tail end of this process can't keep up with the development processes, the scrum teams as you mentioned. that's part of the technical debt that we're dealing with, is we have old testing systems and old testing processes that are catching the software code that is being developed by booz allen hamilton. thank you, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> thank you, mr. banks. i recognize for five minutes.
>> thank you, dr. lawrence to be clear, they said they would not recoup from anyone paid by va 107, 501, and instead written off as an administrative error, can you-- >> it's said in a sentence so we're not going to claw back money under the circumstances that mr. worley described. there's no instead. it will be an administrative error. >> it will be an administrative error and i want to make sure that people watching this and the media reports correctly no claw backs related to sections 107 on-- >> let me state it clearly. if you've been overpaid after the reconciliation-- >> you say this is not a money
problem, not a people problem, what is the problem? >> because i -- yeah. >> the problem is-- >> what was -- are you confident, you say you have everything, just for the record? va has everything it needs. >> our colleagues articulated the difficulty of what we're trying to take on here. so, i think throwing more money or more people at it, i defer to i.t. if they need more people, but from my perspective, it's a matter of continuing to do the testing and continuing to ring out the software so we can get it right and pay our veterans correctly. >> okay. dr. lawrence, your ability to actually get a timeline, to get a sense of when this is going to-- everything is going to be worked out, i mean, who are you
relying on, the project managers to be able to tell you in? >> right there's a project management team or the folks here, where are we? we know with certainly when we give you a date. we know what that is. it's a process, test, figure out what the problems are, root cause analysis, figure out the user cases and come back with a solution and when that's done, that's the date. >> they're accountable to you or i.t. whoever is the top i.t. person at the va? >> it's a little bit of both. >> and this works for-- >> i.t. i.t. folks are to the solid line to i.t. and dotted line to me. >> and head of i.t. we have an acting blah, blah, blah, unconfirmed, and that's mr. s mr. sanval and i think that's a
glaring omission, a major person who is accountable for the i.t. -- has responsibility for i.t., he's not here. the solid line to him and dotted line to you, but the line that goes to mr. sandoval, he's not here. >> thank you. >> i think mr. chairman we need to talk to that guy and seems to me that the president and the secretary, they need to make these appointments and fill these vacancievacancies. this is a critical vacancy, we have -- this is a problem. i want to associate myself with the chairman's remarks about a
continuity problem, a lack of continuity in the very top level. there have been four secretaries since i've been here in six years. four secretaries of this department and now this critical i.t. position which requires a tremendous amount of technical expertise, competence, i think what's missing is a competent person who can be held accountable for what has happened. i don't even know if anyone at this table can really explain what could have been done differently because that person's not here. so i would submit to mr. chairman, we need to hold another hearing with mr. sandoval and ask him to show up. so my time is up. >> well, i appreciate your remarks and your line of questioning and i agree with you, mr. takano.
mr. chairman, recognize you. >> thank you. i think that person's nomination is sitting over in the senate. i think they're queued up in a long line. the question that i'd like answered, questions i'd like answered is how much money so far today did bee spend on an i.t. system that doesn't work, number one. isn't working. we don't know it doesn't, it just hasn't been implemented yet. number two, how much overtime have we spent, the taxpayers' dollars because this i.t. system didn't come in on time and lastly, how much have we paid in overpayments to people that we're not going to claw back? and that's the question that i think-- i think that's the right thing to do. i think you're doing the right thing there, difficult to do. one of the concerns that i have with i.t. i remember sitting here, i was the only one at the
dias when the secretary of defense and the secretary of va sat there and spent a billion dollars trying to make the systems talk to each other and that's why we're doing sichlt-- sirna. and i don't know how much money we've spent, i'm going to stop in a second and let you answer these questions. we're going to be here a month or six months and find out it's in the deliverable. i'll stop on those three questions. anybody have an answer. the number i have is $380,000 a week in overtime. >> so the first two questions require us and we'll take for the record a comprehensive answer so we're complete and don't have any-- >> do we have any idea, dr.
lawrence, how much we've spent up to now. i know some checks have gone out because booz allen isn't doing this because they like it. >> and part of the question what we give, how much have we spent on booz and how much on overfinal. and those are a subset and to mr worley won't know until they get an estimate. >> yes, mr. chairperson, so far, we've paid to booz for the act, parts of the contract $1.2 million, that does not include the software that mr. crowe was talking about that has not been, you know, invoiced yet. so 1.2 million today, to date. >> so it's not a money issue, we would-- the funds are there to do what you need to do? >> correct. >> okay.
i appreciate that and i appreciate your candor in that and just for the record and maybe you want to answer this or not, but our committee was asked not-- we were asked not to send a team to muskogee. and the report i got back from muskogee they were working hard and people were there trying it make this system work and i can't imagine the frustration they must have when the system crashes over and over and they've got to start all over again and i know how i am when i'm doing something like this and i want to throw it as far as i can. i can't imagine what they're going through out there and have you all made a visit out there to talk to these three areas? has someone made a trip out there and shared what you're trying to do to help make their jobs a little easier? >> yes, sir. we made a visit the next week after your team went out there. we regularly talk to them. don't forget the regional officer reports to district
director who talks to the field operations. they hold regular meetings around these issues. i was the one who suggested your team not go. again the time your team spent with the people is team they're not working on claims. >> as a chairman of the committee i would not have learned anything sitting in that office back there. i had to get out and travel this country and go firsthand to people and see what they're doing, putting my eyeballs on the problem and i don't know why you would have asked us not to go. we're trying to make this better not worse and we can't unless we didn't have accurate information. >> i didn't say not go, not going during the period when they're-- it took 15 of our team to provide things with them. it was invaluable what they
learned. i didn't say don't go. i wish you would have wait add couple of weeks for the people to process claims. i wanted to be transparency, our team was glowing-- i talked to peak was in august not almost november. >> the peak as september and october. >> 24th of october, that was two weeks ago. >> that was the end of the peak, that's right, we were processing 12,000 claims a day. those 15 people, that's a nontrivial part of our work force, sir. what i was doing was articulating-- >> how many do you have in your work force. >> 24,000. >> we took 15 and enough to paralyze the whole operation. >> i didn't say paralyze, sir, it had consequences, their opportunity costs. you're always welcome, all the members of the committee are welcome to come to any of our facilities anytime they want. >> i yield back.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. appreciate your engagement and in being here with us today at this hearing, now want to recognize mr. correa again for another five minutes. >> thanks, mr. chairman, i'll try to be brief. a follow-up question on the time that it takes to process claims. how long does it take to process a hardship claim? you said 28 days, general, for the regular claims? >> no, those are our targets. historically we do it much faster than that. the 28 days is for an original application and takes longer because we're verifying service information and those types of things, but once an individual is in school and the school sends in certification, in 40 to 50% of the cases, they go through our automation untouched by human hands and the checks go out within a matter of a handful of days. so a hardship case though, to
get to your question, as we solicited and got names from this staff and from vso's and others, we have a hardship queue which is a protocol we've had in place for long, long time, it wasn't just instituted for this, where this he get put into a hardship queue and those are cleared out virtually every day. so, within three to five days or so after that claim is processed, the individual has money in the bank. >> thank you for follow-up question. i want to be part of the solution. there are a lot of challenges here, this is a work in progress, so to speak, can i work with your office so i can get the information out to my veterans. california's home to the largest number of veterans in the country and my area in orange county we have plenty of young veterans coming back from servicing our country. i'd like to work to get the message out. your 1-800 number whatever you do for veterans to immediately be connected to a solution
should they have a problem. later on off line we'll talk how to get the message out through my office to our veterans. >> yes, absolutely. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, i yield. >> thank you, mr. correa. if you guys would indulge me with one question, just a follow-up question, maybe one, one and a half, but it will be real quick. mr. james, you're with the i.t. outfit and mr. galvin, i think you're with the i.t. outfit. have you all been to must -- must key gee? >> i'm from texas. >> i want my colleagues to be clear to your answer to this. >> do you have a sense of confidence that you are getting
your arms around this and that this issue will be resolved? we won't yet put a time on it, but are you confident that this issue will be resolved in the near term. >> yes, absolutely. >> and you have high confidence it will be? >> yes. >> okay, if you have the information and i'm not trying to trap you or trick you, but if you have information information that you have a high confidence it will be solved, then you ought to have enough information to give us a time frame. you should. and listen, it'd be one thing if you're just-- we're still digging into it, we don't know what we've got, you know, we're not sure yet, we're still-- listen if you're that confident, i believe you owe this committee and the veterans who we all serve a time frame. and so i'm going to ask that you submit that for the record, like we're going to need the
responses to the questions that were asked today. we will follow up with it. but i think everybody up here feels like if you all feel like you're getting your arms around it, you feel like it going to be resolved in the near-term. you ought to be able to give us a time frame. so, we're going to expect that and you can go back and talk to the secretary and the cio acting and come up with a time frame so that we can continue to hold you accountable because that's our job. can't really hold you accountable if you don't have that date. if you also indulge me in saying a few kind things about my colleague from texas, this is, i think, our last hearing, right? and i think it's going to be our last hearing for this congress, and i didn't have any prepared remarks, but i've got to say one of the joys of my service, mr. chairman, and thank you for the opportunity to serve as chairman over this
committee, i sure hope we've pushed hard, fought hard, worked well, with all to try to make a difference for our veterans and our country. i could not have done this without beto o'rourke. and so, yeah, please. [applaus [applause] >> one of the most gratifying parts of this services committee is working with beto and it's because we are red, white and blue in here and it's so refreshing. and we do battle and we have wildly different views, i'm certain, on many issues, but you wouldn't know it the way he treats me and i hope the way i treat him. and we need a whole lot more of that in this place. but you really set the tone because i'm just a freshman and you were such a great support
and you have helped me lead in a way that we were all effective and productive for our main customer, the veteran. so there's not enough words to say thank you appropriately, but as a fellow texan, i think you get the drift, right? >> i do. >> well, god bless you and your family and thank you for your service to this country, beto. with that i ask you unanimous consent that all members have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material. without objection, so ordered. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the u.s. senate is meeting today to continue debate on president trump's pick for agriculture department general counsel. the confirmation vote scheduled for 12:15 eastern. senators will also vote on limited confirmation debate on the nominee for deputy commerce secretary.
senators will break after the vote for the weekly party lunch meetings and back at 2:15 eastern to continue confirmation debate. the house at 2 eastern, eight bills including a senate passed bill to reauthorize the coast guard through 2019. now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. almighty god, awe and wonder grip us as we think about your love, wisdom, and power.