VHA Office of Regulatory and Administrative Affairs
As a senior consultant, I collaborate with the ERPi engagement team and VA staff to support the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Regulatory and Administrative Affairs (ORAA) in its endeavor to be removed from the Government Accountability Office (GAO)’s High Risk List. Federal agencies are placed onto the GAO’s High Risk List when they are most vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or are most in need of transformation.
Team ERPi is specifically addressing High Risk Area #1: ambiguous policies and inconsistent processes. Our work began in the ideation phase, when the Under Secretary for Health chartered a workgroup in 2015. The workgroup, the GAO High Risk Task Force, conducted a root cause analysis and developed the corresponding implementation plan for improving VHA local and national policy development and oversight. In 2016, ERPi was re-engaged by ORAA to execute the implementation plan and pilot the new policy requirements and development process. Team ERPi enables ORAA to transform VHA policy management by clearly outlining oversight responsibilities, enhancing transparency, and engaging the field and national policy development.
An example of how we support process improvement is ORAA’s new online policy repository. The repository gives VHA field-based staff across the country the ability to directly comment and advise on draft policies, which has enabled VHA to improve policy design to be Veteran- and staff-centric, all while increasing transparency in policy development.
Why This Work Matters
Policies are the fundamental rules and standards by which VHA operates and provides health care to our nation’s Veterans. Without clear policies and consistent processes, VHA cannot deliver optimal safety and quality in patient care. Our primary work is to speed up the policy development period to 120 days (in contrast to 500+ days), while simultaneously improving the quality of VHA policies. In addition, we are also trying to increase transparency and field participation in policy development.
Making a Difference
As trusted advisors to VA, ERPi has a successful track record of providing consultation to senior leaders and stakeholders who are key to the mission and active decision-makers. We have streamlined the policy development process and improved the quality of policies that outline VHA’s requirements to ensure outstanding care. On a broad scale, our work will enable VHA subject matter experts to draft the right policies at the right time. As ORAA’s and ERPi’s efforts are scrutinized by GAO, they will be seen by members of Congress and the heads of other federal agencies as they work towards making government more efficient, effective, ethical, equitable and responsive.