Representatives from the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration Join for Inaugural Disability Quality Assurance Summit

On June 6, 2017, the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Warrior Care hosted its first annual Disability Quality Assurance Summit, bringing together quality assurance leaders from DoD, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Benefits Administration and the Social Security Administration to discuss best practices and the benefits of interagency information sharing among large-scale governmental programs.

“This Quality Assurance Summit helps identify some of the common themes we’re all addressing,” said Bret Stevens, director of the disability evaluation system, DoD Office of Warrior Care. “Today’s conversation is meant to establish a long-term relationship to explore how quality assurance can improve our agencies’ support to the individuals we serve.”

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During the Summit, participants highlighted shared customer populations across all three agencies and recommended using meeting takeaways to streamline quality assurance initiatives.

“If we make the process similar, from [military] service all the way through to Social Security, we can make the process so much better,” said John Capozzi, assistant director of quality assurance for compensation service, Veterans Benefits Administration. “If we’re all on that same page, with a unified reason for doing what we’re doing, I think it makes it a lot easier.”

The Disability Quality Assurance Summit continues DoD’s broader quality assurance efforts, which were initiated in 2013. To better ensure accuracy, consistency and timeliness of the Disability Evaluation System processes, the DoD Office of Warrior Care, which provides performance tracking and operational support for the Disability Evaluation System, initiated a Quality Assurance Program to standardize, assess and monitor processes across the military departments. With the Summit, the DoD Office of Warrior Care is proactively improving quality assurance initiatives by facilitating stronger collaboration between federal agencies.

As for the future of interagency collaboration, partners echoed an eagerness in adopting best practices into their own quality assurance programs and optimism about convening again.

“I would like to see us establish an annual Quality Summit where we can really have a day or two to deal with all the issues everyone is dealing with,” said Alan Gulley, program expert in the Division of Disability Quality for the Office of Quality Review, Social Security Administration. “It sounds like we’re going down that direction.”

The Disability Evaluation System Quality Assurance Program is a congressionally-mandated process directed by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. Objectives of the Quality Assurance Program are to ensure accuracy and consistency in the determinations and decisions of Medical and Physical Evaluation Boards; monitor and sustain proper performance of the duties of Medical and Physical Evaluation Boards Liaison Officers; and determine other Quality Assurance Program objectives specified by the Secretary of Defense.

More information about the Disability Evaluation System Quality Assurance Program is found in the DoD Manual 1332.18, Volume 3.