There’s a Word for VA’s Paperless Claims System

For some employees, VBMess is now shorthand for the Veterans Benefits Management System.

The Veterans Affairs Department’s paperless claims processing system -- the Veterans Benefits Management System, known by its acronym VBMS -- should be renamed VBMess, an unidentified VA claims employee told the VAWatchdog blog today after a series of outages this week.

VAWatchdog posted an internal department email on Monday reporting that the rating module of VBMS was taken down for troubleshooting and said technicians could not provide a time when that bit of software would be back online.

Today, VAWatchdog reported the system was still down, based on a note from an employee who said, “Here at our office VBMS has been nicknamed VBMess. We just got an update with this statement: ‘Technicians are unable to provide an ETR [estimated time of resolution] at this time.’ ”

VA spokeswoman Meagan Lutz sent me a statement that explained this problem was the kind of minor glitch routinely experienced with software deployments. “An important part of VA’s information technology approach is the routine and incremental delivery of software upgrades to the VBMS system. This approach allows system issues to be more easily triaged and resolved,” she said.

Addressing the outage, Lutz said, “Occasional system issues tied to this software development approach are to be expected. VA Regional Offices running VBMS are currently experiencing system degradation in the rating tool, but the impact of the problem is contained to the rating tool alone. The VBMS platform as a whole is functional across the 30 regional offices using the platform. This issue will not have a negative impact on benefits claims processing.” 

The timing on this could not be worse. As the VA said in a statement Tuesday, it considers claims processing its top budget priority for 2014.