CALIFORNIA DVA AUDIT: A new audit report issued by California's Independent State Auditor Elaine Howle found that the California Department of Veterans Affairs isn't delivering services as well as it should to the two million veterans living in the state. The report by the California Bureau of State Audits revealed that although it has begun to increase its Outreach efforts and to coordinate with other entities, the CalVet Home Loan Program is not designed to address the housing needs of some veterans and the department needs to improve its strategic planning process. It recommends that the California Department of Veterans' Affairs develops measurable goals and objectives that are directly aligned with the needs of the veteran community, based on a formal assessment of veterans' needs. A summary of the audit report is available at www.bsa.ca.gov/reports/summary/2009-108
. The full audit report is available at www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2009-108.pdf
. Highlights of the audit were:
• The department sees its role as providing few direct services to address issues California's veterans face, such as homelessness and mental illness. Instead, it relies on other entities to provide such services and its Veterans Services division (Veterans Services) is responsible for collaborating with these different entities.
• The department has only recently shifted its attention from its primary focus on veterans homes, deciding that Veterans Services should take a more active role in informing veterans about available benefits and coordinating with other entities.
• One of the department's primary goals for Veterans Services is to increase veterans' participation in federal disability compensation and pension benefits (C&P benefits). However, its ability to meet this goal is hampered by various barriers, including veterans' lack of awareness of the benefits, the complexity of the claims process, and delays at the federal level in processing these claims.
• Both Veterans Services and the County Veterans Service Officer programs (CVSOs) assist veterans to obtain C&P benefits. However, better coordination with the CVSOs and the use of additional data may enhance Veterans Services' ability to increase veterans' participation in these benefits.
• The department did not formally assess veterans' needs or include key stakeholders such as the CVSOs in its strategic planning process, nor did it effectively measure its progress toward meeting the goals and objectives identified in its strategic plan.
• As of MAR 09 the CalVet Home Loan program served 12,500 veterans. However, the program is generally not designed to serve homeless veterans or veterans in need of multifamily or transitional housing.
[Source: Military.com Veterans Report 2 Nov 09 ++]