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Suggested Questions for Eric Shinseki

By Ed O'Keefe

Retired Gen. Eric Shinseki, Barack Obama's nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, faces the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee today as Obama cabinet nominees continue to visit Capitol Hill this week for confirmation hearings.

The Eye continues to post suggested questions for the nominees, as compiled by the General Accountability Office. In November the GAO released its list of the critical issues and important questions facing the new leaders of 28 government agencies and departments.

At the VA, Shinseki faces several challenges, including improving the criteria for disability compensation, improving its claims process and ensuring the processing of veterans' benefits.

Some suggested questions are posted after the jump. The full list of suggested questions for all nominees can be seen here. What would you ask Shinseki? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

• The economic portion of VA’s rating schedule—VA’s eligibility criteria—hasn’t been updated since 1945, although several changes have taken place in medicine, technology, and the labor market since then that could affect veterans’ earning capacity. GAO and others have questioned whether VA’s rating schedule reflects modern concepts about disability and its effect on veterans’ ability to work. Do you have an experience you can describe where you were involved in fundamentally reexamining and overhauling something as organizationally ingrained in the culture and processes as VA’s eligibility criteria are?

• VA hired about 1,800 claims processing staff between January 2007 and February 2008 and estimated that by the end of fiscal year 2008, 3,100 new claims processing staff would be on board. Have you ever overseen a large increase in workforce?

• Would you discuss how your experience could be brought to bear in VA to ensure that the processing of benefits to veterans and their families is carried out effectively and efficiently?

• What in your prior work prepares you to help strengthen VA’s intragovernmental relationships, particularly with DOD, to improve the transition of servicemembers from DOD health care to VA health care?

• What steps would you take to ensure that veterans returning from military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are appropriately screened, diagnosed, and treated for mental health and other conditions when they seek care from VA facilities?

• Have you ever been involved in the accountability of systems responsible for accounts receivable or in debt collections operations? Could you describe how you could help manage oversight of VA’s system to collect payments from third-party insurers?

• If you were to assume a position at VA, what would you do to encourage greater interest by health care providers in working in VA medical facilities?

• Would you discuss your experience in institutionalizing best technology management practices across a large decentralized organization?

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 14, 2009; 7:05 AM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Confirmation Hearings, Congress  
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Every mornng I see the National Guard at Penn Station. HOW are they a part of the Veterans Administration? About a year ago I asked a young woman where her supervisor was. She did not seem to have one nor did she seem to know where her home base was. The woman beside of her, also in Guard Uniform thought the BRONX.
As an American born woman I always thought the guard was military men and women putting in time after their original service for more benefits. How do these men and women fit into the military system?

Crance Watkins Recyling -- SINCE 2004

Posted by: motherschild | January 14, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Gen. Shinseki, for your honor, courage, and integrity. I know that you will apply your experience and drive to the benefit of myself and all Veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the misadventures of Iraq.
an ex-USA SSgt, Vietnam

Posted by: ChoKum | January 14, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I am a 76 year old disabled vet who has had a claim in process with the VA since 2007, my rep at the DAV who is assiting me with this claim notified me that I would be granted a hearing on an appeal in November 2009. I hope that the General will take action with his field bureaucrats to get off their ass and give an answer before I die.

Posted by: cjoeidaho | January 14, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

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