ACE’s Anne Meehan Testifies at House VA Subcommittee Hearing, Highlights Concerns with Implementation of Risk-Based Surveys
September 22, 2023

​The House Veterans Affairs’ Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held an oversight hearing Wednesday that examined the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) administration of veterans education benefits and featured testimony from Anne Meehan, ACE’s assistant vice president for Government Relations.

In response to recent legislation, the VA has created a risked-based survey (RBS), an oversight tool intended to protect taxpayers and veterans against fraud, waste, and abuse in veterans education programs. Under its new tool, VA has subjected more than 600 colleges and universities to risk-based surveys, which are conducted through an institution’s State Approving Agency.

During the hearing, legislators from both parties expressed concern regarding the implementation of VA’s RBS and whether the tool was consistent with congressional intent. Subcommittee members also sought advice on how to refine and improve the current model. Multiple witnesses called for clarifying the triggers that VA uses to identify an institution for an RBS and for streamlining communication between institutions and the VA, an idea that members of the subcommittee greatly supported.  

In her testimony, Meehan expressed the need for, and support of, compliance efforts to ensure adequate safeguards for veterans education programs—both to protect taxpayer dollars and to ensure student veterans receive a high-quality education.

“Risk-based surveys, when done right, provide a valuable and efficient oversight tool that allows regulators to focus limited resources on the areas of greatest concern,” she said. “At the same time, in our effort to root out problems and identify bad actors, we must be mindful that we do not inadvertently create unnecessary compliance burdens on colleges and universities that are serving veterans well.”

Meehan also provided examples of some of the concerns experienced by colleges and universities that have been subject to an RBS, including: (1) issues with VA’s selection criteria for institutions; (2) challenges related to the information required once selected for a risk-based review; and (3) specific concerns about the information required under the “financial soundness review” portion of the survey.

“We believe that VA’s model needs further work to ensure it is meeting its intended purpose,” Meehan said.

Read Meehan’s testimony here and watch the hearing here.

Less Is More: The Impact of Bureaucratic Red Tape on Education Benefits

House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity

watch hearing webcast

ACE Testimony on Risk-Based Survey Implementation