Lawmakers: VA’s Main Website—Designed To Be One-Stop For Vets—Is Missing Critical Links

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Three lawmakers penned a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie asking the agency to add Congressionally-mandated links to VA.gov and the eBenefits site.

The newly revamped VA.gov—relaunched in November—was designed to be a one-stop shop, providing veterans with links to any and all information they would need. However, the homepage appears to be missing links to some critical resources, some of which are mandated by law, according to lawmakers on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Committee members Reps. Gilbert Cisneros, D-Calif., Max Rose, D-N.Y., and Chris Pappas, D-N.H., sent a letter Wednesday to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie noting that the website is missing links to three federal websites.

VA officials, in partnership with the U.S. Digital Service’s Veterans Affairs team, relaunched VA.gov last year after initially working on a comprehensive benefits site called Vets.gov. After conversations with more than 5,000 users, the team discovered that veterans didn’t want a website just for benefits, and the agency opted to move all those services to the VA.gov landing page.

“They don’t expect to go to a benefits site for benefits stuff and benefits tools and a health site for health stuff, and have to log in completely differently,” Marcy Jacobs, executive director of USDS at VA, told Nextgov during the relaunch of VA.gov. “They want to go to one VA and have a single front door.”

However, a review by the House VA Committee staff showed the VA.gov homepage was missing links to the agency’s Freedom of Information Act page and the federal landing site USA.gov, both required by law to be on the main site.

After publication, VA officials pointed Nextgov to a separate landing page that does have the required links, though they are not displayed on the VA.gov homepage.

Committee staffers also could not find links to the VA Office of Inspector General on VA’s eBenefits website, another Congressional requirement. That page does include VA’s FOIA, however, the link is broken and returns an error.

“We understand that VA’s website continues to evolve, including a major redesign last year,” the congressmen wrote. “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.”

“At VA, we're focused on providing the best possible customer service to Veterans, family members, caregivers and survivors," a VA spokesperson told Nextgov. That's why when we designed the new VA.gov, we talked directly to those we serve and incorporated their input to ensure they can easily access the information they are looking for as quickly as possible.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with additional information and a statement from VA.