- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2015

Officials for the Department of Veterans Affairs released a map of the United States divided into five regions on Monday, touting it as a positive first step to eliminate bureaucracy, though it’s still unclear how each of the department’s arms will fit into the new borders that took four months to draw.

The five regions will apply to all the different pieces of the Veterans Affairs Department, including the Veterans Health Administration, Veterans Benefits Administration, National Cemetery Administration, Office of Information and Technology and Office of General Counsel, said Scott Blackburn, an official working on the project.

“It will help veterans see one single VA rather than many different components,” he said. “The regions will align into a signal framework allowing for better internal coordination.”

Different arms of the massive bureaucracy previously worked under nine different geographical maps dividing the country into dozens of regions.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald announced the reorganization, called “MyVA,” in September, saying that having different organizations under the same geographic umbrella would provide a more seamless experience for veterans.

More than four months later, the department released a map showing the five new regions, with borders drawn along state lines, but could provide no details on how this would change the structure for the 21 Veterans Integrate Service Networks or call centers, if this would create more jobs or how much the reorganization would cost.

Details of how each part of the VA will reconcile its operations with the new map lines won’t be ironed out until the end of June, Mr. Blackburn said.

When asked about what specific changes staff and patients could expect as a result of the new map, VA officials had few answers and repeatedly said that the new geographic areas are just a first step in a long process.

“The decision was made not to wait until we had completely re-engineered the entire operation for us to start talking to people,” said Bob Snyder, executive director of the MyVA program office.

When asked specifically about how it may change the day-to-day life of a VA employee, for example, Mr. Blackburn said staff would “in the not too distance future … feel the impact from that in a positive way.”


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