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house Bill H.R. 4613

Should the VA Make All its Reports to Congress Searchable on its Website?

Argument in favor

The VA’s reports to Congress are an important source of information about veterans’ affairs in the U.S. As such, they should be publicly accessible and searchable on the agency’s website.

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02/25/2020
Absolutely! All federal agencies should make their unclassified documents available to the public. These can be regulated for dispersal by the Freedom of Information Act regulations just like all other government entities. Such documents are stored and managed by the National Archives. BTW, this comment gives me an opportunity to note a rumor that has been flying around the internet that the National Archives is scheduled to destroy documents from the Trump administration’s first term because it is underfunded and overburdened. If you have been hearing this, it is FALSE! Here is r the statement from the National Archives: https://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/nr20-43
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jimK's Opinion
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02/26/2020
Yes, easy access to appropriate agency information is important for public trust in the agency as well as an accountability check for the public. I think it is appropriate for the public to trust that their taxpayer dollars are being used properly and effectively. So Agencies generally should provide any records involving performance measures, stats, reports, agency program changes, agency directives and probably a lot of other things - excepting of course, documentation that is classified or can be used to determine personal information for any particular individual receiving services. If medical records are released by patients to other medical providers, as currently provided for with current records between medical providers, that is a separate service from generally public agency administrative and policy stats and directives.
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Kodiwodi's Opinion
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02/25/2020
Absolutely. I want to know what the heck is or is not going on in the VA!
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Argument opposed

This bill is unnecessary because the VA already makes most of its reports available on its website.

August's Opinion
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02/25/2020
Better idea, we get rid of the VA, and go to a National Healthcare system. Vets with service related injuries move to the top of the lists.
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John's Opinion
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02/26/2020
Typical duplicity in our legislative system.
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James's Opinion
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02/25/2020
Absolutely not! From a disabled Vet to you! My medical service records are Classified Documents that only the VA has legal right to access! As far as spending and the budget of each hospital that is already public information! My healthcare to include my disabilities recurved due to service is nobodies damned concern! Not Congress as they don’t have access to my records and definately NOT the general public! And to the Idiot that suggested we should abolish the VA! You don’t have a Damned Clue Jerk! You never Served! As I do have followers on Countable that are Conservative and Patriotic but have not served I expect you to understand and back us Vets fully! To all you sniveling left wing crybabies that want transparency? Get Lost! You have no business chiming in on Veterans’ business! Milwaukee VA is my healthcare provider! The First and Oldest in the country as well as one of the largest and rated #1. I’ll take you little crybabies in there just for a walk down the main hallway on any given day and show you all the wounded! But they walk or ride in on wheelchairs Proud! Remember that!
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What is House Bill H.R. 4613?

This bill would require the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop a searchable website that allows the public to obtain electronic copies of all reports the VA prepares in response to requests by Congress. The VA would be required to post all reports completed in the last eight years to this site, and to post new reports on an ongoing basis. Additionally, the VA would be required to submit to Congress a list of recurring reports that it recommends be discontinued.

To keep reports up-to-date, this bill would also require electronic copies of reports be made available within three days of submission to Congress, and that reports be made available for free.

Impact

The VA; VA’s reports to Congress; and the VA’s website.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4613

The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost less than $500,000 over the 2020-2024 period, due largely to the fact that most of VA’s reports are already available on its website.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) introduced this bill to increase transparency at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA). When he introduced this bill, Rep. Rose said

“When the VA is required to study an issue and report back, what’s the use if it’s impossible to find? This is a commonsense proposal that would ensure that veterans and the public would have easy access to these public documents."

After this bill’s committee passage, Rep. Rose said

“This is an important step towards more transparency and accountability at the VA for our veterans community. This is a commonsense proposal that has received clear, bipartisan support—and I hope to see quick action both in the House and Senate to get this across the finish line.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Gil Cisernos (D-CA) adds

“As a Navy veteran, it’s troubling that veterans face difficulty in accessing public documents at the VA. We should be working to make it easier for our veterans to access the information they need, not harder. I’m proud to join Congressman Rose in introducing this bill to guarantee accountability and transparency at the VA and promote a system that serves those who have served us.”

This legislation passed the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs by voice vote with the support of two bipartisan cosponsors (one from each party).


Of NoteCongress often requires the VA to produce reports on issues pertaining to veterans. These include issues around service and accessibility, such as nurse staffing, fraud prevention efforts and the activities of the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower protection.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / LifeJourneys)

AKA

VA Reporting Transparency Act

Official Title

To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish and maintain a website of the Department that allows the public to obtain electronic copies of certain legislatively requested reports of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
    IntroducedOctober 4th, 2019
    Absolutely! All federal agencies should make their unclassified documents available to the public. These can be regulated for dispersal by the Freedom of Information Act regulations just like all other government entities. Such documents are stored and managed by the National Archives. BTW, this comment gives me an opportunity to note a rumor that has been flying around the internet that the National Archives is scheduled to destroy documents from the Trump administration’s first term because it is underfunded and overburdened. If you have been hearing this, it is FALSE! Here is r the statement from the National Archives: https://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/nr20-43
    Like (36)
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    Better idea, we get rid of the VA, and go to a National Healthcare system. Vets with service related injuries move to the top of the lists.
    Like (10)
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    Share
    Yes, easy access to appropriate agency information is important for public trust in the agency as well as an accountability check for the public. I think it is appropriate for the public to trust that their taxpayer dollars are being used properly and effectively. So Agencies generally should provide any records involving performance measures, stats, reports, agency program changes, agency directives and probably a lot of other things - excepting of course, documentation that is classified or can be used to determine personal information for any particular individual receiving services. If medical records are released by patients to other medical providers, as currently provided for with current records between medical providers, that is a separate service from generally public agency administrative and policy stats and directives.
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    Absolutely. I want to know what the heck is or is not going on in the VA!
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    Many of the veterans need their medical information ASAP but as it now stands it takes longer than it should to get the information uploaded. This bill would make it mandatory that their info be uploaded much faster so that their doctors can access it as necessary.
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    Transparency in our government provides accountability. All agencies should provide Congressional reports, that do not compromise national security, on their websites. Other public entities, like schools, have been doing this for decades.
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    Just being transparent is the point
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    Support any bill that makes the government more accountable to the people.
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    If the VA is already doing this, it wouldn’t take much effort to add the reports it hasn’t already posted and formalizing the existing process to be permanent seems reasonable.
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    Increase transparency of the Federal Government. I’d also like to know how much we are paying to Trump properties for his “vacations” as well as the cost for his adult children.
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    After our soldiers serve their country, our government should not be "hiding" information that could change a veteran's life, whether good or bad. Don't do shady things, and this is not ever a question.
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    Understanding the needs helps us understand funding or in trumps case the lack of funding.
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    Typical duplicity in our legislative system.
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    Good government is transparent. I'm not sure I have any need to see this information, but it should be available for all Americans to see so they know how their tax dollars (or not, if you're wealthy) are being spent.
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    Transparency in government!
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    This will open transparency in government. A bipartisan idea and common sense
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    We have a right to know what the VA is and isn’t accomplishing. Veterans are still complaining so are they right? Is the VA sill being run by Maralago country club?
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    As a federal agency, the people have the right to the information disclosed by the VA to Congress. Also, if the people can understand the issues that the VA might be dealing with, the people can assist veterans in their local municipalities with what the VA cannot.
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    A simpler, easily searchable database makes sense. This will fill in the gaps from the current system.
    Like (3)
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    Yes. The VA should be completely transparent.
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