VA CASEFLOW TEAM
Millions of Americans interact with government services every day, and expect to do so through digital channels. Too often they are faced with outdated tools and systems that lead to a cumbersome and frustrating experience. DSVA is made up of top engineers, designers, product managers, bureaucracy busters, and procurement experts from all corners of the tech industry and government who join for term-limited tours of duty—leaving their jobs, and often their homes, they come to D.C. and work to solve that problem. We are always designing products with our users, not for them, and we exist outside of standard hierarchies, enabling us to go where the work is and quickly research and develop solutions to VA’s most urgent Veteran facing problems—and we’ve had quite the impact. The mission is ambitious, but critical: use industry best practices to make it easier for Veterans to get the benefits they deserve, and our Caseflow team is particularly unique. They work with leaders across the VA, members of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, appeals attorneys, judges and more to build and ship digital products that improve the timeliness and accuracy of appeals decisions, and improve the Veteran’s experience.
By designing with users and partnering with VA employees, the DSVA team has accomplished a great deal in improving the appeals process for our Veterans and for folks within VA, allowing them to work smarter, not harder. DSVA’s work:
Enabled Veterans to easily monitor claims and appeals.
The claims and appeals processes for VA benefits are complex and can take over a decade to complete. Now Veterans can view the status of their claims and update information, such as adding additional supporting documents. They can also check the status of their appeal and the steps their appeal has already gone through, if they requested a hearing, and if they are required to submit any paperwork. Vets.gov also includes an appeals process page that explains the steps in plain language, so Veterans know what to expect at every stage.
Got attorneys excited to try new software.
Like many enterprise environments, attorneys at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals are accustomed to having software appear for their use without having been able to test it to see if it will meet their needs. When the VA team piloted Caseflow Reader, an evidence review tool that aims to increase productivity, attorneys were hesitant to volunteer. But, after three months of building Reader iteratively alongside a small band of intrepid users, the Board was buzzing. When it came time to recruit a larger beta testing group, the team found themselves turning away eager attorneys clamoring to try out the new tool.
This initiative saved VA employees 20 years of productivity per year.
When a Veteran submits a Privacy Act request to obtain a copy of their case files, VA employees download those files from the web-based eFolder and burn them to a CD. However, the software only supports downloading files one-at-a- time, requiring hours of clicking to retrieve the hundreds of files that compose a typical folder. The VA team built a “download all” button called eFolder Express. The result? An intuitive system that downloads 900,000 documents per month, saves VA employees a cumulative 20 years of productivity every year, and gets Veterans their files faster.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS