Chairwoman Maloney Introduces Legislation to Address Backlog of Requests for Veterans’ Records

Mar 31, 2022
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (March 31, 2022)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, introduced the Access for Veterans to Records Act, a bill that would help provide resources to address the backlog of requests for records at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), which currently stands at 600,000.

 

“It’s clear that our veterans’ records system is in desperate need of reform.  With a global pandemic contributing to longer waits for thousands of veterans and their families to get the benefits they rightfully deserve, it’s time to ensure the federal government has the necessary resources to process records requests quickly,” said Chairwoman Maloney.  “This commonsense bill will help provide the funding the National Personnel Records Center urgently needs to modernize its information technology and shore up its workforce to ensure records processing is just a click away.”

 

NPRC—which operates within the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)—houses records that are essential for veterans to receive service-related benefits, including medical treatment, unemployment assistance, and emergency housing services.  The pandemic and resulting reduced NPRC on-site workforce, combined with the fact that most of these records are not digitized, have exacerbated the backlog in veterans’ records requests.

 

To help expedite the processing of veterans’ records requests, the Access for Veterans to Records Act would:

 

  • Require NARA to submit a plan for eliminating the NPRC backlog to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform as well as the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs within 60 days of the enactment of the bill;

 

  • Require NARA to include target timeframes for reducing the backlog and detailed steps to improve infrastructure and customer service for requestors in its plan; and

 

  • Authorize $60 million for NARA to directly address the NPRC backlog by improving response times for responding to requests from veterans for military records, improving cybersecurity, and improving the digital preservation of records.

 

The Access for Veterans to Records Act is cosponsored by Reps. Stephen F. Lynch, Gerald E. Connolly, Cori Bush, and Jim Cooper.

 

Chairwoman Maloney has long advocated for improvements to address the veterans’ records backlog at NPRC.  On May 20, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney and a bipartisan group of Committee Chairs and Ranking Members sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III asking him to prioritize a NARA request for assistance with addressing the backlog of veterans’ records requests at NPRC.  On October 20, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney and Ranking Member James Comer, along with National Security Subcommittee Chairman Stephen F. Lynch and Ranking Member Glenn Grothman, sent a bipartisan letter to the Inspector General of NARA urging him to evaluate and make recommendations on how NPRC can reduce the backlog of pending veterans’ records requests.

 

Click here for a one-pager.

 

Click here for bill text.

 

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117th Congress