On Monday March 23, 2015, the House will consider H.R. 216, The Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Planning Reform Act of 2015, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 216 was introduced on January 8, 2015 by Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. It was ordered reported, with an amendment in the nature of a substitute, on February 12, 2015 by voice vote.
H.R. 216 would reform the manner in which the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) determines, plans for, and delivers health care, benefits and services, by requiring the VA to periodically review and assess veterans’ needs, identify a plan of action to meet these changing needs, and align its resource requirements with its current, and future, operations. H.R. 216 requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to submit several reports to Congress and designate a current Assistant Secretary as its Chief Strategy Officer to improve the Department’s efficiency and better meet the needs of America’s veterans. The bill will codify in statute much of what the VA is already doing and will ensure that its processes in these areas are more transparent.
Section 2 requires the VA Secretary to submit to Congress a report entitled the Future-Years Veterans Program, which would include an estimated spending plan and proposed appropriations for the succeeding five years necessary to meet the goals of the Department. The Future-Years Veterans Program will address the commitment of the United States to better serve veterans and will include the information used to craft the guidance and an explanation about how the future estimated expenditures and proposed appropriation levels correlate with the five year strategy. The program will be submitted with the VA’s annual budget submission to Congress, starting with the VA’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget submission. It will also be published on a publically accessible Internet website of the Department.
Section 2 also requires the VA to compete a quadrennial veterans review, which seeks to evaluate the Department’s policies, strategies, benefits, and program outcomes. The Secretary will conduct a review in consultation with relevant governmental and nongovernmental agencies that would examine the strategy for meeting the commitment of the United States to veterans and the resources necessary to meet this commitment. Further, it will look at the potential problems that could emerge in the future for veterans. The review will begin in FY 2019, and will be completed every four years thereafter. In every year that a quadrennial review is conducted, the VA will be required to establish an Independent Veterans Review Panel of 10 individuals appointed by Congress and the VA to review the VA’s work on the quadrennial veterans review, assess the review’s findings, and independently assess strategies for delivering services and supports to veterans.
Section 2 further requires the Secretary to provide written policy guidance annually to appropriate officials with the Department for the preparation and review of the planning and program recommendations and budget proposals of the elements of the Department of such officials.
Section 3 requires the VA to designate a current Assistant Secretary to serve as the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) of the Department. The CSO will be responsible for managing budgets for the Department, ensuring that all programs and policies run efficiently, and providing advice to the Secretary.
 See H.R. 216, as amended, at 2.
 Ibid at 13.
 Ibid at 14.
The majority of the provisions in H.R. 216 were included as Section 5 of legislation (H.R.813), which was reported by the Committee on Veterans Affairs in the 113th Congress. Those provisions, which are substantively similar to H.R. 216, will allow the VA to better meet the needs of America’s veterans by codifying a planning, programming, and budget execution process within the VA to better align resources with needs, increase transparency and accountability, and allow the Department to meet its goals more efficiently and effectively. This process is intended to result in a comprehensive, agency-wide methodology to support the agency’s vision and mission and help translate strategy into actionable programs that achieve desired visions.
 See House Report 113-212 at 11.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing H.R. 216 would cost $3 million over the FY 2016 to 2020 period. This act and such amendments shall be carried out using amounts otherwise available for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Enacting H.R. 216 would not affect direct spending or revenues, therefore pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
 See CBO Cost Estimate—H.R. 216
For any additional information or questions, contact the House Republican Conference at 5-5107.