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Appeals Reform: Board of Veterans’ Appeals Board 2.0 – Every Decision Matters

January 24, 2019
Handshake agreement

What is Board 2.0?

Board 2.0 represents Chairman Cheryl Mason’s vision of leading the Board of Veterans’ Appeals toward the future as an “innovative, integrated team dedicated to serving veterans.”  This new model of the Board is intended to accommodate the organizational, technical, and procedural changes of the Appeals Modernization Act (AMA), also referred to as Appeals Reform.  Consistent with the goals of Appeals Reform, the Board is focusing on modernizing its processes to more efficiently meet the growing needs of veterans: “The new law provides an improved, streamlined approach to the adjudication of Veterans’ appeals,” said Mason in the Board 2.0’s Press Packet.  “Our organization and processes have evolved over time to keep up with our mission of serving veterans, and the AMA is a key step toward delivering better, faster, more transparent service to veterans.”

Since its launch in October of 2018, Board 2.0 has maintained a consistent tagline: every decision matters.  This primary message serves to embrace the reality that every decision at the Board has the potential to change the life of a veteran and his or her family and the adjudication process should reflect that.

What are the main goals of the Board 2.0?

Board 2.0 under Appeals Reform focuses primarily on the following:

  • Action.  Board 2.0’s focus on action mainly involves personnel.  In Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, the Board served more veterans than any other FY in Board history.  Specifically, the Board issued 85,288 decisions to veterans.  This number not only exceeded the Board’s goal, but also represented an increase of 33,277 decisions from FY 2017.  To generate such a high level of productivity, the Board took action by hiring 1,055 full-time employees in FY 2018, representing the first time in the Board’s history it has over 1,000 full-time employees.  Board 2.0 plans to continue taking action to build on this success as reports indicate that VA’s Budget for FY 2019 allocates resources to hire an additional 605 full-time employees.

 

  • Service.  Board 2.0 is also committed to improving customer service.  To do so, Board 2.0 has introduced an interactive decision template in order to improve readability for veterans and increase efficiency for Board staff.  Additionally, Board 2.0 implemented special provisions for veterans impacted by natural disasters with appeals before the Board.  Veterans can request an advancement on the docket to accelerate their appeal.  Board 2.0 also provides ongoing quality training and Appeals Reform refresher training for all staff members.  Finally, Board 2.0 has worked towards improving customer service by launching the Appeals Status Tool on VA.gov, which allows veterans to view where they are on the Board’s docket and how many appeals are in front of theirs.  It is estimated that over 66,000 veterans have used this tool to date.

 

  • Modernization.  Board 2.0’s modernization goal involves collaboration with the U.S. Digital Service team and VA’s OIT (i.e. Office of Information Technology).  Specifically, the Board 2.0 will be introducing Caseflow as the new suite of web-based tools designed to replace the 40 year-old Veterans Appeals Control and Locator System (VACOLS).  Caseflow is intended to create a better, more efficient process for handling and deciding appeals using modern technology.

Overall, Board 2.0 seeks to inform, engage, and support veterans by effectively communicating the changes associated with the implementation of Appeals Reform and the benefits of the new system.  Under this new model, the Board recognizes that every stakeholder is critical to the successful implementation of Appeals Reform and the timely delivery of decisions that impact the lives of veterans and their families.

 

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