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IBM Developing VA Online Claims System

Under the $9.1 million development contract awarded by the Veteran's Administration, IBM will build a system to allow veterans to file disability claims online.

The Veteran's Administration has awarded IBM a $9.1 million development contract to build a system allowing veterans to file disability claims online.

Vietnam veterans who suffer from certain disabilities as result of their military service will be the first who can use the system, which will handle the end-to-end process of filing for disability claims, the VA said in a press statement. The agency hopes to have the system online by November.

Specifically, the system will target veterans with B-cell leukemia, Parkinson's disease, or ischemic heart disease as a result of exposure to herbicides during the Vietnam war.

Eventually, the VA plans to expand the system to handle claims for other maladies afflicting veterans, it said.

The new system will guide veterans through automated, program-assisted menus so they can enter relevant information and medical evidence based on which the agency can make claims decisions, according to the VA. The agency estimates the first iteration of the system will help as many as 100,000 veterans

The VA has had a mixed bag of results when it comes to IT projects lately. The agency was recently criticized by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for the handling of an online scheduling system, which it is currently in the process of rebuilding.

However, VA CIO Roger Baker, who took over last year, has completely revamped how the agency is handling IT projects, with some success. The agency said it saved $54 million in fiscal 2010 by reforming its IT project management efforts

The agency also is moving full steam ahead to modernize its IT systems through a plan called the Innovation Initiative, one of the VA's transparency plans that is funding the online claims system.

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