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California State Auditor Report Number: 2015-505

Follow-Up—California Department of Veterans Affairs
Better Collection and Use of Data Would Improve Its Outreach Efforts, and It Needs to Strengthen Its Oversight of County Veterans Service Officer Programs

July 7, 2015 2015-505

The Governor of California
President pro Tempore of the Senate
Speaker of the Assembly
State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814

Dear Governor and Legislative Leaders:

This report presents the results of a follow-up audit of the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) related to certain recommendations made in 2009 by the California State Auditor (state auditor). In October 2009 the state auditor issued a report titled California Department of Veterans Affairs: Although It Has Begun to Increase Its Outreach Efforts and to Coordinate With Other Entities, It Needs to Improve Its Strategic Planning Process, and Its CalVet Home Loan Program Is Not Designed to Address the Housing Needs of Some Veterans (Report 2009-108). The 2009 report included recommendations for CalVet’s Veterans Services Division (Veterans Services) aimed at improving its collection and analysis of data to inform its outreach efforts, ensuring it meets legal requirements regarding the auditing of workload activity reports submitted by County Veterans Service Officer programs (CVSOs), and verifying the appropriateness of college fee waivers as required by state law.

This report concludes that Veterans Services’ efforts have fallen short of fully addressing these issues. More than five years later Veterans Services has not fully implemented any of the three recommendations in our prior report. Specifically, Veterans Services has yet to fully use available data that could help it to better focus its outreach efforts. A new feature on CalVet’s website—myCalVet—has been operational for over a year and contains a variety of information about veterans who register to use it; however, Veterans Services has not used information collected by myCalVet to develop outreach strategies or to identify how veterans connect with myCalVet. In addition, inadequacies in its auditing of the CVSOs’ workload activity reports hinder Veterans Services’ ability to demonstrate that the funding it distributes to the CVSOs is consistent with their actual workloads. Further, Veterans Services lacks adequate oversight of the College Fee Waiver Program as it does not have a process to ensure that the CVSOs, which approve college fee waivers for veterans’ dependents, are not erroneously approving these waivers. As a result of the weaknesses we identified in our 2009 report, and that we determined during this follow‑up audit still continue, Veterans Services’ outreach to veterans could be improved and it could better ensure that its allocations to the CVSOs accurately reflect their workloads.

Respectfully submitted,

State Auditor

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