Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Official: VA Would Need Staff of 4,000 to Scan All Its Backlogged Benefit Records Official: VA Would Need Staff of 4,000 to Scan All Its Backlogged Bene...

This ad will end in seconds
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation



Official: VA Would Need Staff of 4,000 to Scan All Its Backlogged Benefit Records

June 19, 2012 is part of the National Journal Group Inc. and the Atlantic Media Company. It is a spin off of and provides coverage and commentary on the management of information technology in the federal government. From time to time, Nextgov and will share content and collaborate on features and events.

The Veterans Affairs Department would have to employ 4,000 more workers in order to scan billions of pages of paper benefit claims, William Bosanko, a top executive at the National Archives and Records Administration, told a hearing of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

NARA has performed sophisticated scanning operations for the department at five sites for the past two years under contracts valued at $9.7 million, Bosanko told lawmakers at the hearing. The system NARA developed for VA not only scans documents, but also has been taught to recognize and compile data from 170 different forms the Veterans Benefits Administration uses, he said. VA’s contracts with NARA expires next week.

Bosanko said NARA has recommended VA seek help from the private sector for meeting its systemwide scanning requirements.


VA holds records on millions of veterans dating as far back as World War II. Bosanko estimated the department would have to scan 60 million pieces of paper a month so that records could be used with VA’s new paperless claims-processing system, the Veterans Benefits Management System -- a feat that would require a staff of 4,000. He did not say how long the process could take.

Bosanko said NARA had little contact with senior department leadership about the scanning project until last week, when Veterans Affairs sent NARA planning documents for a follow-on contract.

Jeffrey Hall, assistant national legislative director for Disabled American Veterans, said “NARA's decision to stop performing this work caught [the Veterans Benefits Administration] somewhat by surprise.”

National Archives will continue to support VA in its current work -- scanning 600,000 pieces of paper a month at five sites -- and will provide expertise and insight as VA executes a new procurement, Bosanko said.

Hall is concerned that the absence of a systemwide scanning contract could delay rollout of the Veterans Benefits Management System. “The failure to properly plan for such an essential feature of the VBMS system troubles us and once again raises questions in our minds about whether there are other gaps or problems in their claims processing transformation strategy,” Hall said in his written testimony.

Richard Dumancas, deputy director of the American Legion’s Claims, Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission, said the largest concern looming over full deployment of VBMS is scanning claims in an electronic format. “As of right now, there are far more questions about this aspect of VBMS than there are answers,” he said.

“Is VA prepared for the massive volume of scanning, with attendant optical character recognition to ensure the new electronic files are truly searchable and useful in an electronic operating environment? Which files are to be scanned?" he asked. "Will only new files be electronic? Will files be converted to electronic when new actions are initiated on that file? Who will provide that scanning? Will there be a scanning division set up in every regional office, or will it be centralized? Will there be hybrid files, combining electronic and paper documents, and how will those files be handled? 

“The problem with so many questions looming is there has been little in terms of a definitive response from VA as to the long-term plan that would answer these questions. A lot of weight is riding on getting the electronic scanning portion of this system done right, so ambiguity in this area is deeply distressing.”

VA did not respond to a query from Nextgov on how it plans to handle its massive document-scanning requirements.

Job Board
Search Jobs
Biomedical Service Internship Position
American Society of Civil Engineers | Flint, MI
Fire Sprinkler Inspector
American Society of Civil Engineers | Charlotte, NC
Professional Development Program Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Farmington Hills, MI
Deputy Director of Transit Operations
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Jose, CA
Transportation Planner
American Society of Civil Engineers | Salinas, CA
Assistant Professor - Water Resources/Ecological Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers | Auburn, AL
Product Manager - Chemical Development and Supply - Tulsa, OK
American Society of Civil Engineers | Tulsa, OK
Commissioning Intern
American Society of Civil Engineers | Chicago, IL
Assessment and Remediation Team Lead
American Society of Civil Engineers | Regina, SK
Business Development Manager
American Society of Civil Engineers
Sr. Controls Systems Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Grand Island, NE
Senior Project Manager- Transportation
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Antonio, TX
Materials Engineer 2
American Society of Civil Engineers | IL
Land Surveyor
American Society of Civil Engineers
Quality Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Attica, IN
comments powered by Disqus