Innovation At VA: Collaboration, Data Aid Veteran Benefits Project

Judi Hasson | AOL Government | November 5, 2012

A collaborative effort to combine data previously scattered across multiple federal agencies has led to a single portal where veterans can access key benefits. Until now, agencies' benefits such as scholarships, mortgage loans, education benefits and job openings for veterans were stuck in silos, requiring a veteran to navigate each agency site individually to find a benefit they were entitled to receive.

The Department of Veterans Affairs created and is now working with the Social Security Administration and the departments of Labor, Education and Defense to expand the project from which other agencies could model their own online benefit sites and learn how to harness, organize and present data. "We're tearing down the walls. We can all play in the same sandbox,'' said Robert Reynolds, the VA's director of the Benefits Assistance Service.

Two million veterans currently use eBenefits, which manages benefits for education, employment, health, housing, insurance and compensation. Reynolds said the site could easily be replicated in other agencies that have similar demands to deliver services. The VA continues to identify agency's with benefits useful for veterans, and adds new services to the site every three months...