Rep. Cisneros Calls on Secretary Wilkie to Fix VA Website

August 28, 2019
Press Release

Reps. Cisneros, Pappas, and Rose urge VA to immediately update website to include required content and links 

Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39), Max Rose (NY-11), and Chris Pappas (NH-01) wrote a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie urging immediate fixes to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) website in order to better serve the veteran community. Their letter follows a review of the VA website by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs that found that it fails to include mandatory content and links.

“As you know, VA’s website is a vital resource for veterans and their families,” wrote the Representatives. “Many Veterans Service Organizations, stakeholder groups, and others consider the website a critical source for a wide range of information. However, a review by Committee staff found that VA’s primary public website, VA.gov, does not conform to multiple federal requirements, including mandatory content and links.”

Specifically, the Committee review found the following missing links and content:

  • USA.gov, the federal jobs board, is not on VA.gov, as required by federal policy.
  • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) information and links regarding VA’s FOIA process is on neither VA.gov or eBenefits.gov, which is a VA website often accessed by veterans and their family members.
  • The Office of Inspector General is not linked to as required on the eBenefits site managed by VA.

The Representatives continued, “The inclusion of these links on VA’s website is required. Equally important, these are resources that should make VA more accessible in order to promote accountability.”

The full text of letter is HERE and below:

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The Honorable Robert Wilkie

Secretary

Department of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Ave, NW

Washington, DC 20420

Dear Mr. Secretary:

            We would like to bring to your attention some important gaps within the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA’s) public website, VA.gov. We believe VA should undertake specific changes to provide improved access to information for veterans and ensure full compliance the laws and rules pertaining to federal websites.

As you know, VA’s website is a vital resource for veterans and their families. Many Veterans Service Organizations, stakeholder groups, and others consider the website a critical source for a wide-range of information. However, a review by the Committee staff found that VA’s primary public website, VA.gov, does not conform to multiple federal requirement, including mandatory content and links. Further, while the eBenefits site may not be the VA’s primary homepage, it is a commonly accessed landing page for veterans and their family members looking understand their benefits.

Specifically, the Committee staff review noted:

  • Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) The information and links regarding VA’s FOIA office and process is on neither VA.gov or eBenefits.gov  (DOD FOIA is included as part of eBenefits).[1]
  • Office of Inspector General. The eBenefits site maintained by VA does not have the required link to the VA Office of Inspector General.[2] While eBenefits links to the DOD OIG, this is a separate institution.
  • USA.gov.[3] The USA.gov link is not on VA.gov, although it is on eBenefits.

The inclusion of these links on VA’s websites is required. Equally important, these are resources that should make VA more accessible in order to promote accountability. For example, the Freedom Of Information Act are policies and procedures granting critical access to federal agency records by all Americans. Similarly, the OIG performs oversight of VA, representing critical accountability and reporting of fraud, waste, and abuse. Finally, USA.gov site provides links to many government services and information for federal programs

Thank you for your attention to these issues with the VA websites. I understand that VA’s website continues to evolve, including a major redesign last year. However, we ask that you ensure that the website has all the required information in order to be as useful as possible for our nation’s veterans.

Sincerely,

__________

[1] Required by OMB M-05-04, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites.

[1] Required by the Inspector General Act of 1978 (amended)

[1] Required by OMB M-05-04, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites.

Issues: