Paralyzed Veterans of America is pleased to announce its 8th Annual Law and Public Policy Writing Competition. Each year Paralyzed Veterans holds the contest to encourage vigorous discussion among the current and next generation of the legal profession on public policy issues affecting today’s veterans.
The subject of this year’s writing competition is based on the significant claims backlog that currently exists at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and what structural changes, if any, might be considered to resolve it. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued report after report discussing VA’s significant claims backlog. Not only does it take a long time—years—to process a veteran’s claim, but new claims are flooding in at the rate of nearly 1 million each year.
While VA is testing pilot programs to help resolve the backlog, no clear plan has resulted for any part of the adjudication system. VA has testified before Congress that “there are opportunities for more fundamental program reform, such as reexamining program design and the structure and division of labor among field offices.” This raises the question of what sort of structural change should be considered.
This year’s entrants in the contest are being asked to write an essay based on the following questions: Should the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) be modified, decentralized or even abolished and its function located with the initial claims adjudicators in VA regional offices? Would such a change achieve significant improvement in customer service, cost savings and improved accuracy and timeliness of benefits decisions?
Students who are enrolled for the current school year in any law school accredited by the American Bar Association, or who are enrolled in a master’s degree program in the areas of business, public policy or public administration, are eligible to enter in the student division. Graduates of these degree programs are eligible to enter in the professional division. Two prizes of $3,000 each will be awarded in each of the two divisions.
Submissions must be received no later than August 1, 2011, and winners will be notified no later than September 30, 2011.