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And those refigured computations were submitted to OMB. However, they were not submitted with the approval of the agency; that's why, as we just stated, negotiations are ongoing.
Mr. WYLIE. The VA submitted figures, but they said this, we are submitting them at your request and do not approve-
Actually they should have cleared that up.
Miss STARBUCK. Mr. Wylie, and Mr. Chairman, as I mentioned, the administrator is fully aware of what had happened in the March budget guidance which we received. It is his firm opinion that should OMB at this time attempt to take us back to that March figure that the President would be ill-advised, having accepted the Gramm-Latta amendment in the budget.
The administrator views as anathema the idea of a consolidation of regional offices or a reduction in personnel that would take us beyond our capability currently to deliver benefits. And in his negotiations with OMB he is very firm in his conviction that there was a commitment made by the Office of Management and Budget, as was agreed to with Chairman Montgomery, that we would accept the Gramm-Latta amendment.
Mr. WYLIE. But as I understand it from Mr. Lyngh, the VA did submit figures without approval, just merely submitted the figures based on the so-called March budget estimate for VA from the Office of Management and Budget?
Miss STARBUCK. This is the basis for the negotiations that are now ongoing, and we feel really, in the agency, that the Administrator will prevail in his position with respect to the funding for the agency
Now I think there is a possibility that there will be some reductions in some areas, but it is my feeling right now, and again, as Mr. Lyngh has mentioned, none of us has anything in writing, but it is my feeling and strong feeling that the Administrator will prevail in this with respect to DVB.
Mr. WYLIE. But when you submitted your figures to the Office of Management and Budget without approval, merely passing on information which was requested of you based on the budget figures, estimated in March, did that indicate a loss of 2,373 employees for fiscal year 1982?
Miss STARBUCK. When we responded to the March directive initially, of March 10, we made it very clear to the Office of Management and Budget that what they were proposing at that time was chargeable to a consolidation action, a total of 1,650 personnel in fiscal year 1982, anticipating that the consolidation would be half completed in fiscal year 1982, charging another 1,650 in fiscal year 1983.
That directive of OMB went by the board in the acceptance of the Gramm-Latta provision, and as a consequence then any consideration of consolidation or massive reduction in personnel was brought to a halt.
Mr. WYLIE. But at no time did anybody from the Office of Management and Budget or the VA suggest that there would be a loss of 2,373 veterans jobs, Veterans' Administration jobs in fiscal year 1982?
Miss STARBUCK. No, sir. As I said earlier, if the Office of Management and Budget were to prevail over the Administrator's objections and the VA would have to go back to the March figure, in order to reach the March figure it would be necessary that we reduce from our current employment level at approximately the level which Mr. Lyngh has indicated.
Mr. WYLIE. You said over 2 fiscal years.
Miss STARBUCK. Well, that was the original plan, sir. But if we are forced to do it in a year it would cost us that much in personnel. But I am confident that that will not happen.
Mr. WYLIE. Yes. The full court press is not being put on?
Mr. Lyngh. If I could just add to that, Mr. Wylie, I would like to see Mr. Stockman sign off on that which he hasn't yet done.
Mr. HALL. I will recognize Mr. John Paul Hammerschmidt, a member of this committee and the ranking minority member of the Veterans' Committee.
The gentleman from Arkansas is recognized.
I am pleased that I got here in time to hear that last colloquy between Mr. Lyngh and Mr. Wylie and Miss Starbuck. I know that we have to be ever vigilant, and I would like to see Dave Stockman sign off on that, too.
But it is my feeling that the VA and this committee and the Appropriations Committee will prevail. And you may be aware that Chairman Montgomery and myself wrote the chairman and ranking member of the Appropriations Committee expressing clearly that we did have an agreement with OMB, of course as well as with the White House, on not going back to those March figures, on using Gramm-Latta figures.
I feel we will prevail, but I think you have to make your case which you have today, at every opportunity you get, and I know that the chairman of this subcommittee, Sam Hall, is going to be more vigilant than anybody else on these figures. And I am going to follow his advice and leadership.
But I think it is very wise that we make a clear record here today. We know how OMB is. They look at figures and they try to cut the best deal they can, but we look at people and veterans, and I don't mean that they are callous or nonprotective, but they have to deal with the figures of the total Government, and it is up to us to protect the rights and benefits of the veterans, and I think that is what these hearings are about today.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. LYNGH. If I could offer an observation, Mr. Chairman, in response to Mr. Hammerschmidt's comment, might I say we do have a copy. We were favored with a copy, the letter that yourself and the chairman submitted, for which we are most grateful, and might I just make the observation, speaking for the American Legion, that the only thing that gives us any measure of confidence in the adequacy of funding for fiscal year 1982 for the Veterans' Administration is the active interest that this committee is taking in this whole matter, which we think is crucial at this point, and we are most appreciative of it.
Mr. Hall. Thank you, Mr. Lyngh and Mr. Egan. We appreciate your testimony.
Mr. LYNGH. Thank you.
Mr. Hall. We next have Mr. Philip Mayo, special assistant, national legislative service of the VFW.
STATEMENT OF PHILIP R. MAYO, SPECIAL ASSISTANT, NATION
AL LEGISLATIVE SERVICE, VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS OF THE UNITED STATES
Mr. Mayo. Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for the privilege of presenting to this distinguished subcommittee the views of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on matters relating to the compensation programs administered by the Veterans' Administration.
First of all, we would like to commend this subcommittee and the full committee for advancing what are now Public Law 97-37, regarding matters relating to our former prisoners of war, and for what is now Public Law 97-66 the Veterans' Disability Compensation, Housing and Memorial Benefits Amendments of 1981.
That measure contains a much-needed compensation and DIC payments increase, along with other provisions which we believe affect compensable veterans and their dependents in a positive fashion, both now and in future years.
It is gratifying to us that Congress, under the prudent and aggressive leadership of this subcommittee and the full Veterans Affairs Committee has reaffirmed its support of veterans' programs.
Keeping in mind the current budget constraints and keeping Federal costs down, we believe that continuing pressure will be applied on the Department of Veterans' Benefits to reduce their level of claims-servicing personnel. While such reductions may appear fiscally prudent when staffing levels for that Department are reviewed, we respectfully submit that such may not be the
Information available to us indicates that the various States, like the Federal Government, are facing fiscal problems that may require reductions in staffing in their Departments of Veterans' Affairs and may cause, as well, reductions in the number of county service officers. It is our view that such reductions should not occur.
As you know, these State-funded offices provide experienced counseling to veterans in claims actions for compensation and other veterans benefits, as well as providing needed assistance in VA hospitals.
A reduction in this pool of experienced assistance to veterans and the VA, if such should take place, will cause increased work load burdens upon the VA, and the challenges facing that agency in this connection were detailed extensively before this subcommittee in our statement on this subject on May 18.
It is our view, Mr. Chairman, that claims for compensable disabilities are effectively denied if informed decisions concerning
personnel levels within the VA are not made, and we urge this subcommittee to continue to exert its forceful leadership in assuring that the decisions relating to those levels are made on such a basis.
In addition, Mr. Chairman, it is our belief that the passage of legislation to protect compensable disability ratings after 10 years will provide benefits to both our veterans and the VA.
It is our experience—the experience of our service officers in the field who deal with these matters—that most compensable disabilities stabilize within a 10-year period and further examinations to substantiate such cases after the expiration of 10 years divert much-needed resources from areas that need attention in the VA, in both the Departments of Veterans' Benefits and Medicine and Surgery.
Simply stated, to make such a change in law, in our view, provides in these times of fiscal restraint, an additional cost-savings mechanism as well as sparing veterans the continued trauma of undergoing time-consuming physical examinations.
Again, Mr. Chairman, we commend you and the subcommittee for your exemplary and sensitive leadership in matters relating to the well-being of our Nation's veterans, and I would be happy to respond to questions you may have at this time.
Mr. HALL. Thank you, Mr. Mayo.
in times of fiscal restraint, an additional cost-savings mechanism as well as sparing veterans the continued trauma of undergoing further time-consuming examinations.
Would you elaborate on that, please, as to what your position is?
Mr. Mayo. In order to not be reduced on their disability claim veterans are occasionally required to undertake physical examinations over the period of 20 years. We believe that if the 10-year protected period is implemented that it will save the veterans the trauma of undergoing this. They are very uncertain and become very upset about it. This has been the experience of our service personnel in the field.
Mr. Hall. Are you stating that once a veteran has received a disability rating he should not be required to go back for further evaluation in the future?
Mr. Mayo. No, sir; I am not. I am saying our experience has been that after 10 years very few are changed.
Mr. Hall. You take the position that after 10 years their position is protected from that point on?
Mr. MAYO. Yes.
Most of the changes that occur in disability compensation ratings occur within the first 10 years after the determination.
Mr. Hall. Well, if they had to take an examination, not every 6 or 8 months, but every 18 months to 2 years, why would that be such a charge on those veterans to do that?
Mr. Mayo. They are concerned that their rating may be reduced.
Mr. Hall. Well, would it be possible that their condition may have improved?
Mr. MAYO. Yes, sir.
(Ayo. It may be, yes. (ALL. I am not taking issue, it always bothers me when a vho has been found to be disabled or a person who, and as I lier, I equate this to trials or lawsuits, with which I have le experience, when a person does not wish to be examined ys gave rise, to my thinking, that maybe he is not as
as he indicates that he may be. That is not always the understand. But to me it would be well for a veteran who n found to be disabled to undergo an examination at some ble period of time to see whether or not he is worse off or ff than he was 10 years before, or five years before. Tayo. I understand precisely what you are saying, sir. It is nt that the examinations that veterans have taken, after ; 10 years of their disability, have in most cases not resulted reduction or any change. It is merely adding that additionkload that the VA has to accomplish in both the Departf Medicine and Surgery, and the Department of Veterans' s. r their uncertainty, I would never feel comfortable if I were by the IRS, no matter who I was. I would feel apprehension r I had done something wrong or not, in further explanation feeling ill at ease. Iall. Thank you. Thank you very much for your very fine ny, and I yield to Mr. Wylie, the gentleman from Ohio. WYLIE. Mr. Chairman, I don't have any questions at this
Mayo, I appreciate your excellent testimony, it is fairly tforward.
of the questions I have had of an earlier witness that I ou have heard, and we have gone into those and gotten that ation for the record. k you very much. Mayo. Thank you, sir. HALL. The gentleman from Arkansas, Mr. Hammerschmidt. HAMMERSCHMIDT. Mr. Chairman, other than to thank Mr. or his fine testimony, I have no questions. Hall. Next is Mr. Gordon Mansfield, associate legislative r for the Paralyzed Veterans of America. may proceed.
TATEMENT OF GORDON H. MANSFIELD, ASSOCIATE LATIVE DIRECTOR, PARALYZED VETERANS OF AMERICA MANSFIELD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. the record I am Gordon H. Mansfield, associate legislative r of Paralyzed Veterans of America. I would request that my te statement be entered in the record. 1 Chairman and members of the subcommittee, PVA's legislaal is that compensation benefits should be increased to at ceep abreast of inflation. The recently enacted Public Law does much to achieve this goal, and we wish to thank you e members of the full committee for your efforts at securing gislation which provides for the needs of veterans who have