Make eBenefits A Veteran Centered Digital Watchdog

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What is eBenefits?  You can read more at www.ebenefits.va.gov

Basically, it's an internet portal for veterans and service members. The slogan for eBenefits is "my Gateway to Benefit Information" 

Compared to other internet portals found on the internet (such as financial institutions, shopping with big businesses, etc) the government's version is still far behind in ease of use. A lot of older veterans and their families have never even heard of eBenefits. 

Being able to use an internet portal to request things from the VA is cheaper and more efficient in the long run. It is also supposed to be safer. There is no figuring out who to call, where to get help, or how to get help if everything we need is accessible to our finger tips; granted we know how to use a computer and have an internet connection. There is also less human error.  

The eBenefits portal can be used to add another layer of security to veterans' private information. Every time someone accesses the veteran's information within the  Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) computer system, the veteran should be able to see who that person is to ensure that person has authorization. If the VA built in these features into the computer programs there would be no extra manpower needed; it would all be done by the computer. The veteran should be allowed to print the logs of the people who viewed their information and file privacy violation complaints via the portal. Just like VA bureaucrats can see the information of a veteran with a few strokes of a key board, so too should the veteran be able to see who has seen their information with a few strokes of a key board. 

Something needs to be done to protect veterans' private information and strengthen digital security at the VA because as it stands right now, veterans have very little privacy protection from people who have access to the computer system.

Consider this:

1) The prevalence of privacy violations at the VA has become an epidemic system wide; and 

2) Even though the VA is one of the top Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) privacy offenders, the Office of Civil Rights, an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), that enforces HIPAA, has largely ignored the VA’s problem; and 

3) the process of reporting privacy violations is a very long, complicated and confusing process for many Veterans, often resulting in more negative consequences than providing the protection and relief the Veteran seeks; and

 4) Younger Veterans are more apt to be electronic savvy, as well as, prefer to conduct business electronically; and

 5) Creating an electronic system that can monitor and generate unredacted audit reports for Veterans via the on-line eBenefits portal would reduce costs associated handling and mailing audit requests in paper form or on electronic storage devices (i.e., CD/DVD/USB); and

 6) The VA can modernize its on-line platform (eBenefits) to provide “live coverage” of a Veteran’s information that shows who has and is accessing the Veteran’s private information by showing the names of the people viewing their information, the time they accessed it, the location from where they accessed it, and the purpose for viewing the information;

Veterans need your help with supporting legislation and changing applicable regulations that requires the VA to utilize the on-line eBenefits portal for audit requests and filing privacy violations. 



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