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Veterans Affairs enlists Oracle for benefits self-assessment portal

Web Q&A helps veterans find the right forms and factsheets about entitlements
Department of Veterans Affairs CIO, Shane McLeod. Credit: DVA

Department of Veterans Affairs CIO, Shane McLeod. Credit: DVA

The Department of Veterans Affairs has used a policy automation system to create a portal that helps veterns navigate a thorny entitlement claims process.

The DVA's Entitlement Self Assessment (ESA) portal, built using Oracle Policy Automation, is essentially a Web survey that asks Australian veterans about their status including length of military service, medical conditions and other questions. At the end of the assessment, the website determines what benefits are available to and links to relevant forms and factsheets.

“We’ve taken the complexity away from the veteran community,” the DVA’s CIO, Shane McLeod, told CIO Australia. “Mainly, they need to know their own circumstances, where previously they also really needed to understand the business channel within the department.”

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The complexity comes from the fact that the department manages three separate claims schemes under three pieces of legislation: the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986, the Safety, Rehabilitation & Compensation Act 1988 and the Military Rehabilitation & Compensation Act 2004. In addition, the DVA has about 300 fact sheets and 200 forms associated with the schemes.

“It’s pretty complex for the veteran community trying to navigate their way through that,” said McLeod.

The new ESA portal guides veterans through the process by providing links only to the forms and information specific to the applicant’s needs. The portal lets veterans enter personal information anonymously.

DVA chose Oracle for the job on the strength of a long existing partnership with the vendor, McLeod said. More than 30,000 online self assessments have been completed, said McLeod.

“That’s a really good result from the department’s perspective.”

Feedback has been “surprisingly positive,” considering many veterans are old and may be less likely to have computer literacy skills, said McLeod. “When you start looking at that age group around the eighties and nineties ... there’s a question mark over whether they’re going to use this capability.”

However, the results have dismissed those fears and shown that the service is intuitive for people of all ages, McLeod said. Since launch, DVA has had 16,400 active users of the online service, he said. Of those, the average age is 64, and the oldest user was 105 years old, he said.

With the success of ESA, the DVA is now looking at bringing new online services online and enhancing its backend processes, said McLeod.

“It provides a really compelling case to continue to put more services online and look at our internal business process and look at opportunities for doing things more efficiently.”

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

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