Bipartisan Oversight Committee Leaders Applaud Award of Funds to Modernize Access to Veterans’ Records
Washington, D.C. (May 23, 2022)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform Committee, Rep. James Comer, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, Rep. Jody Hice, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, and Rep. Glenn Grothman, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Security, released the following statements after the General Services Administration announced a new Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) award for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to transform operations and make military service records more quickly, reliably, and securely accessible to veterans and their families:
“The $9 million award to the National Archives and Records Administration from the Technology Modernization Fund will help improve veterans’ access to essential services, and I am proud of the Oversight Committee’s successful, bipartisan effort to ensure NARA received this funding,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “The Technology Modernization Fund was designed for this exact purpose—to deliver more effective, efficient, and secure services to the American public. Our veterans and their families rely on access to their military records to receive critical services, including medical treatment, home loans, unemployment assistance, and burials. Many of these records are currently available only as paper documents, which slows processing times and leaves them susceptible to damage. This award will finally enable NARA to digitize these records and ensure we uphold our commitments to our nation’s veterans.”
“America’s veterans gave their all to defend our freedoms and we owe our all to them. Digitizing veterans’ records is long overdue and will provide veterans with more timely access to documents needed to obtain critical services owed to them for their service to our nation,” said Ranking Member Comer.
“Projects like this one at the National Archives is precisely why I created the Technology Modernization Fund,” said Subcommittee Chairman Connolly. “This investment will eliminate a years-long backlog that currently prevents veterans from accessing benefits they earned. Technology makes federal programs and policies work.”
“Today’s announcement is long overdue. Veterans and their families have faced years-long backlogs for their records necessary to obtain benefits like medical care, home loans, and burial allowances because federal bureaucrats did not show up to work in person,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Hice. “Digitizing these records will bring this process into the 21st century and provide veterans with more efficient and reliable service.”
“With this new funding, the National Personnel Records Center will be better equipped to address its current backlog of more than 600,000 pending veterans document requests and fulfill its important mission to provide world-class service to America’s military veterans and their families,” said Subcommittee Chairman Lynch. “Following extensive bipartisan collaboration and the tireless advocacy of our veterans service organizations and communities, I am proud that this Technology Modernization Fund award will advance our national commitment to ensuring that the brave men and women who have served our Nation receive the benefits, healthcare, and other services that are reflective of their sacrifice and patriotism.”
“Our veterans deserve the best service from the federal government but unfortunately this often is not the case. Providing the National Personnel Records Center with critical funding to digitize veterans’ records will provide better service to our nation’s veterans,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Grothman. “We owe our veterans a debt of gratitude and we must ensure the federal government delivers on its promises made to them.”
In June 2021, the Oversight Committee and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a bipartisan briefing on the backlog of veterans’ records requests and possible legislative solutions to address challenges faced by NPRC.
On July 26, 2021, the Oversight Committee sent a bipartisan letter urging NARA to apply for TMF funding to help clear the extensive backlog of unprocessed requests for records, which veterans rely on to access vital benefits, including disability benefits and their pension.
On April 6, 2022, the Oversight Committee approved H.R. 7337, the Access for Veterans to Records Act, which would help address the current backlog of veterans’ records requests at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), an office of NARA.
On May 25, 2022, the Government Operations Subcommittee will hold a hearing to examine the effectiveness of TMF, which is supporting 23 technology modernization projects across 14 federal agencies.