Veteran Employment: Preliminary Observations on the VA Technology Education Pilot Program

What the GAO found

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is running a pilot program, called Veterans Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC), which provides tuition and housing assistance to eligible veterans who enroll in a proposed training program. by a VA approved supplier. Although VET TEC began in April 2019, preliminary observations from GAO ​​indicate that VA has yet to implement most of the best practices for effective pilot program design, with the exception of communicating with stakeholders. (see figure).

Figure: Best practices for effective pilot design

Specifically, VA does not have documented, measurable goals for the program. As such, VA cannot yet determine an evaluation methodology or evaluation plan to measure driver performance. While VA officials said they plan to formally evaluate VET TEC near the end of the pilot, they did not provide specific information on what the evaluation will entail. Additionally, VA is not well placed to assess the scalability of the program, as VA officials may not have a full picture of veteran or training provider demand for VET TEC.

GAO’s preliminary observations revealed that VA has taken steps to implement a best practice by communicating with stakeholders, including training providers, veterans, and employers. As part of ongoing work, GAO plans to further review VA’s efforts to design and implement the VET TEC pilot project in accordance with best practices and will provide recommendations for improvement, as appropriate.

Why GAO Did This Study

The federal government helps veterans continue their education and gain job skills to succeed in the civilian job market. Congress directed VA to develop a pilot program to provide tuition and other financial supports to eligible veterans who enroll in high-tech education programs through eligible training providers. In response, VA created VET TEC, which is licensed for 5 years from April 2019 when the first contract was issued.

In addition, Congress included a provision allowing the GAO to evaluate certain aspects of VET TEC. In response, GAO began work to evaluate VET TEC.

This statement is based on preliminary observations from the ongoing GAO review and focuses on VA’s efforts to design and pilot VET TEC. To develop these preliminary findings, GAO reviewed relevant VA documents and interviewed VA officials familiar with the VET TEC pilot project, as well as two VET TEC training providers. Additionally, VA’s efforts were benchmarked against GAO’s best practices for effective pilot design.

For more information, contact Dawn Locke at (202) 512-7215 or locked@gao.gov.