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114th Congress   }                                        {      Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session     }                                        {      114-48

======================================================================



 
   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS BUDGET PLANNING REFORM ACT OF 2015

                                _______
                                

 March 23, 2015.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

    Mr. Miller of Florida, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 216]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 216) to amend title 38, United States Code, to 
direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit to Congress 
a Future-Years Veterans Program and a quadrennial veterans 
review, to establish in the Department of Veterans Affairs a 
Chief Strategy Officer, and for other purposes, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon with an amendment 
and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Amendment........................................................     2
Purpose and Summary..............................................     6
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     6
Hearings.........................................................     8
Subcommittee Consideration.......................................     9
Committee Consideration..........................................     9
Committee Votes..................................................     9
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     9
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     9
New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures     9
Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits.............................    10
Committee Cost Estimate..........................................    10
Congressional Budget Office Estimate.............................    10
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................    11
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................    11
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................    11
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................    11
Statement on Duplication of Federal Programs.....................    11
Disclosure of Directed Rulemaking................................    12
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................    12
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill as Reported.............    13

                               Amendment

    The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Department of Veterans Affairs Budget 
Planning Reform Act of 2015''.

SEC. 2. ESTABLISHMENT OF STRATEGIC PLANS TO IMPROVE PROGRAMS AND 
                    BENEFITS FOR VETERANS.

  (a) Future-Years Veterans Program.--
          (1) In general.--Chapter 1 of title 38, United States Code, 
        is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

``Sec. 119. Future-Years Veterans Program

  ``(a) Submission to Congress.--The Secretary shall submit to Congress 
each year, at or about the time that the President's budget is 
submitted to Congress pursuant to section 1105(a) of title 31, a 
Future-Years Veterans Program reflecting the estimated expenditures and 
proposed appropriations included in that budget. Any such Future-Years 
Veterans Program shall cover the fiscal year with respect to which the 
budget is submitted and at least the four succeeding fiscal years.
  ``(b) Consistency.--(1) The Secretary shall ensure that amounts 
described in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (2) for any fiscal year are 
consistent with amounts described in subparagraph (B) of such paragraph 
for that fiscal year.
  ``(2) Amounts referred to in paragraph (1) are the following:
          ``(A) The amounts specified in program and budget information 
        submitted to Congress by the Secretary in support of 
        expenditure estimates and proposed appropriations in the budget 
        submitted to Congress by the President under section 1105(a) of 
        title 31 for any fiscal year, as shown in the Future-Years 
        Veterans Program submitted pursuant to subsection (a).
          ``(B) The total amounts of estimated expenditures and 
        proposed appropriations necessary to support the programs, 
        projects, and activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs 
        included pursuant to paragraph (5) of section 1105(a) of title 
        31 in the budget submitted to Congress under that section for 
        any fiscal year.
  ``(c) Contents.--The Future-Years Veterans Program under subsection 
(a) shall set forth the five-year plan of the Department to address the 
commitment of the United States to veterans and the resources necessary 
to meet that commitment and shall be developed and updated, as 
appropriate, annually by the Secretary. Each Future-Years Veterans 
Program shall include an explanation of--
          ``(1) the information that was used to develop program 
        planning guidance for the Future-Years Veterans Program; and
          ``(2) how the resource allocations included in the Future-
        Years Veterans Program correlate to such five-year strategy.
  ``(d) Publication.--The Secretary shall publish on a publically 
accessible Internet website of the Department each Future-Years 
Veterans Program submitted pursuant to subsection (a).''.
          (2) Clerical amendment.--The table of sections at the 
        beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the 
        item relating to section 118 the following new item:

``119. Future-Years Veterans Program.''.

          (3) Effective date.--Section 119 of title 38, United States 
        Code, as added by paragraph (1), shall apply with respect to 
        the preparation and submission of the budget request for the 
        Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2020 and fiscal 
        years thereafter.
  (b) Quadrennial Veterans Review.--
          (1) In general.--Such chapter is further amended by adding 
        after section 119, as added by subsection (a)(1), the following 
        new section:

``Sec. 120. Quadrennial veterans review

  ``(a) Requirement.--(1) Not later than fiscal year 2019, and every 
fourth year thereafter, the Secretary shall conduct a review of the 
strategy for meeting the commitment of the United States to veterans 
and the resources necessary to meet that commitment (in this section 
referred to as a `quadrennial veterans review').
  ``(2) Each quadrennial veterans review shall include a comprehensive 
examination of the policies and strategies of the United States with 
respect to veterans, including recommendations regarding the long-term 
strategy and priorities for programs, services, benefits, and outcomes 
regarding veterans and guidance on the programs, assets, capabilities, 
budget, policies, and authorities of the Department.
  ``(3) The Secretary shall conduct each quadrennial veterans review in 
consultation with key officials of the Department, the heads of other 
Federal agencies, and other relevant governmental and nongovernmental 
entities, including State, local, and tribal government officials, 
members of Congress, veterans service organizations, private sector 
representatives, academics, and other policy experts.
  ``(4) The Secretary shall ensure that each quadrennial veterans 
review is coordinated with the Future-Years Veterans Program required 
under section 119 of this title.
  ``(b) Contents of Review.--In each quadrennial veterans review, the 
Secretary shall--
          ``(1) delineate a veterans strategy consistent with the 
        commitment of the United States to veterans and refine a 
        strategy for the types of, and provision of, programs, 
        services, benefits, and outcomes consistent with current 
        authorities and requirements;
          ``(2) outline and prioritize the full range of programs and 
        capabilities regarding veterans provided by the Federal 
        Government;
          ``(3) identify the budget plan required to provide sufficient 
        resources to successfully execute the full range of such 
        programs and capabilities;
          ``(4) include an assessment of the organizational alignment 
        of the Department with respect to the strategy referred to in 
        paragraph (1) and the programs and capabilities referred to in 
        paragraph (2);
          ``(5) review and assess the effectiveness of the mechanisms 
        of the Department for executing the process of turning the 
        requirements identified in the quadrennial veterans review into 
        a plan to meet such requirements, including an expenditure plan 
        for the Department; and
          ``(6) identify emerging trends, problems, opportunities, and 
        issues that could affect veterans or the Department during the 
        ten-year period following the period covered by the review.
  ``(c) Submission to Congress.--(1) The Secretary shall submit to the 
Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the House of 
Representatives a report regarding each quadrennial veterans review. 
The Secretary shall submit the report in the year following the year in 
which the review is conducted, but not later than the date on which the 
President submits to Congress the budget for the next fiscal year under 
section 1105 of title 31.
  ``(2) Each report submitted under paragraph (1) shall include--
          ``(A) the results of the quadrennial veterans review;
          ``(B) a description of the challenges to, and opportunities 
        for, the assumed or defined veterans-related interests of the 
        Nation that were examined for the purposes of that review;
          ``(C) the strategy for meeting the Nation's commitment to 
        veterans, including a prioritized list of the missions of the 
        Department;
          ``(D) a description of the interagency cooperation, 
        preparedness of Federal assets, infrastructure, budget plan, 
        and other elements of the programs and policies of the Nation 
        associated with the strategy referred to in subsection (b)(1) 
        that are required to execute successfully the full range of 
        programs and capabilities identified in such strategy and the 
        programs and capabilities outlined under subsection (b)(2);
          ``(E) an assessment of the organizational alignment of the 
        Department with the strategy referred to in subsection (b)(1) 
        and the programs and capabilities outlined under subsection 
        (b)(2), including the Department's organizational structure, 
        management systems, budget and accounting systems, human 
        resources systems, procurement systems, and physical and 
        technical infrastructure;
          ``(F) a discussion of the status of cooperation among Federal 
        agencies in the effort to promote national support for 
        veterans;
          ``(G) a discussion of the status of cooperation between the 
        Federal Government and State, local, and tribal governments in 
        supporting veterans and providing programs, services, benefits, 
        and outcomes to assist veterans;
          ``(H) an explanation of any underlying assumptions used in 
        conducting the review; and
          ``(I) any other matter the Secretary considers appropriate.
  ``(d) Publication.--The Secretary shall publish on a publically 
accessible Internet website of the Department each quadrennial veterans 
review submitted pursuant to subsection (c).
  ``(e) Independent Veterans Review Panel.--(1) Not later than February 
1 of a year in which a quadrennial veterans review is conducted under 
this section, the Secretary shall establish an independent panel to be 
known as the Independent Veterans Review Panel (in this subsection 
referred to as the `Panel'). The Panel shall have the duties set forth 
in this subsection.
  ``(2) The Panel shall be composed of 10 members who are recognized 
experts in matters relating to veterans. The members shall be appointed 
as follows:
          ``(A) Two by the chairman of the Committee on Veterans' 
        Affairs of the House of Representatives.
          ``(B) Two by the chairman of the Committee on Veterans' 
        Affairs of the Senate.
          ``(C) Two by the ranking member of the Committee on Veterans' 
        Affairs of the House of Representatives.
          ``(D) Two by the ranking member of the Committee on Veterans' 
        Affairs of the Senate.
          ``(E) Two by the Secretary, who shall serve as co-chairs of 
        the panel.
  ``(3) Members shall be appointed for the life of the Panel. Any 
vacancy in the Panel shall be filled in the same manner as the original 
appointment.
  ``(4) The Panel shall have the following duties with respect to a 
quadrennial veterans review:
          ``(A) While the review is being conducted, the Panel shall 
        review the updates from the Secretary required under paragraph 
        (7) on the progress of the conduct of the review.
          ``(B) The Panel shall--
                  ``(i) review the Secretary's terms of reference and 
                any other materials providing the basis for, or 
                substantial inputs to, the work of the Department of 
                Veterans Affairs on the quadrennial veterans review;
                  ``(ii) conduct an assessment of the assumptions, 
                strategy, findings, and risks included in the report on 
                the quadrennial veterans review required in subsection 
                (c);
                  ``(iii) conduct an independent assessment of a 
                variety of strategies for delivering services and 
                support to veterans;
                  ``(iv) review the resource requirements identified 
                pursuant to subsection (b)(3) and, to the extent 
                practicable, make a general comparison to the resource 
                requirements to support the strategies assessed under 
                this subparagraph; and
                  ``(v) provide to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs 
                of the Senate and the House of Representatives and the 
                Secretary, through the report under paragraph (7), any 
                recommendations the Panel determines appropriate.
  ``(5) If the Secretary has not appointed members to the Panel under 
paragraph (2)(E) by February 1 of a year in which a quadrennial 
veterans review is conducted under this section, the Panel shall 
convene for its first meeting with the remaining members.
  ``(6) Not later than three months after the date on which the report 
on a quadrennial veterans review is submitted under subsection (c) to 
the Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the House of 
Representatives, the Panel shall submit to such committees a report 
containing an assessment of the quadrennial veterans review, including 
a description of the items addressed under paragraph (4) with respect 
to that quadrennial veterans review.
  ``(7) Periodically, but not less often than every 60 days during the 
life of the panel, or at the request of the co-chairs, the Secretary 
shall brief the Panel on the progress of the conduct of the quadrennial 
veterans review.
  ``(8)(A) The Panel may request directly from the Department such 
information as the Panel considers necessary to carry out its duties 
under this subsection. The Secretary shall cooperate with the Panel to 
ensure that information requested by the Panel under this subparagraph 
is promptly provided to the maximum extent practical.
  ``(B) Upon the request of the co-chairs, the Secretary shall make 
available to the Panel the services of any federally funded research 
and development center that is covered by a sponsoring agreement of the 
Department.
  ``(C) The Panel shall have the authorities provided in section 3161 
of title 5 and shall be subject to the conditions set forth in such 
section.
  ``(D) Funds for activities of the Panel shall be provided from 
amounts available to the Department.
  ``(9) The Panel shall terminate 45 days after the date on which the 
Panel submits the report on the quadrennial veterans review under 
paragraph (6).''.
          (2) Clerical amendment.--The table of sections at the 
        beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the 
        item relating to section 119, as added by subsection (a)(2), 
        the following new item:

``120. Quadrennial veterans review.''.

  (c) Policy Guidance.--
          (1) In general.--Such chapter is further amended by adding 
        after section 120, as added by subsection (b)(1), the following 
        new section:

``Sec. 121. Policy guidance

  ``The Secretary shall provide annually to the appropriate officials 
of the Department written policy guidance for the preparation and 
review of the planning and program recommendations and budget proposals 
of the elements of the Department of such officials. Such guidance 
shall include guidance on the objectives of the Department in 
accordance with Future-Years Veterans Program under section 119 of this 
title and the quadrennial veterans review under section 120 and the 
resource levels projected to be available for the period of time for 
which such recommendations and proposals are to be effective.''.
          (2) Clerical amendment.--The table of sections at the 
        beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the 
        item relating to section 120, as added by subsection (b)(2), 
        the following new item:

``121. Policy guidance.''.

SEC. 3. CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

  (a) In General.--Chapter 3 of title 38, United States Code, is 
amended by adding at the end the following new section:

``Sec. 323. Chief Strategy Officer

  ``(a) In General.--The Secretary shall designate the Assistant 
Secretary whose functions include planning, studies, and evaluations as 
the Chief Strategy Officer of the Department. The Chief Strategy 
Officer shall advise the Secretary on long-range strategy and 
implications.
  ``(b) Responsibilities.--The Chief Strategy Officer is the principal 
advisor to the Secretary and other senior officials of the Department, 
and shall provide independent analysis and advice to the Secretary and 
such officials. The Chief Strategy Officer shall carry out the 
following responsibilities:
          ``(1) Conducting cost estimation and cost analysis for the 
        programs of the Department.
          ``(2) Establishing policies for, and overseeing the 
        integration of, the planning, programming, budgeting and 
        execution process for the Department.
          ``(3) Providing analysis and advice on matters relating to 
        the planning and programming phase of the planning, 
        programming, budgeting and execution process, and the 
        preparation of materials and guidance for such process, as 
        directed by the Secretary, working in coordination with the 
        Assistant Secretary for Management.
          ``(4) Developing and executing the Future-Years Veterans 
        Program of the Department, as specified under section 119 of 
        this title.
          ``(5) Developing resource discussions relating to 
        requirements under consideration in the quadrennial veterans 
        review under section 120 of this title.
          ``(6) Formulating study guidance for analysis of alternatives 
        for programs and initiatives, including any necessary 
        acquisitions, development, or procurement commensurate with 
        such alternatives, and performance of such analysis as directed 
        by the Secretary.
          ``(7) Reviewing, analyzing, and evaluating programs for 
        executing approved strategies and policies, ensuring that 
        information on programs and expected outcomes is presented 
        accurately and completely.
          ``(8) Ensuring that the costs of programs and alternatives 
        are presented accurately and completely by assisting in 
        establishing standards, policies, and procedures for the 
        conduct of cost estimation and cost analysis throughout the 
        Department, including guidance relating to the proper selection 
        of confidence levels in cost estimates generally and for 
        specific programs of the Department.
          ``(9) Conducting studies at the request of the Secretary 
        regarding costs, policy assumptions, and strategic implications 
        of current policies and possible alternatives.
          ``(10) Communicating directly to the Secretary and the Deputy 
        Secretary of Veterans Affairs about matters for which the Chief 
        Strategy Officer is responsible without obtaining the approval 
        or concurrence of any other official within the Department.''.
  (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 
322 the following new item:

``323. Chief Strategy Officer.''.

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 216, the ``Department of Veterans Affairs Budget 
Planning Reform Act of 2015'' was introduced on January 8, 
2015, by Committee Ranking Minority Member Corrine Brown of 
Florida and Committee Chairman Jeff Miller of Florida. H.R. 
216, as amended, would establish a Future Years Veterans 
Program (FYVP) to require a submission by VA of estimated 
expenditures and proposed appropriations necessary to support 
the programs, projects, and activities of VA covering, at a 
minimum, a five-year period; require VA to conduct a 
Quadrennial Veterans Review (QVR) every four years and to 
submit such review to the Congress, as well as establish an 
Independent Veterans Review Panel to review the QVR; and direct 
VA to designate a Chief Strategy Officer to be the principal 
advisor to the Secretary on long range planning activities.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    In its present form, the Department of Veterans Affairs 
budget process does not provide sufficient information on not 
only current resource requirements, but also future funding 
needs. To improve the budget formulation process and by 
extension, the Committee's understanding of the Departments 
goals and the resources needed to meet those goals, Section 2 
of H.R. 216, as amended, 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. 
Section 2 would do this by codifying a planning, programming, 
and budget execution process (PPBE) within VA. In its origins, 
PPBE (then known as PPBS) goes back over five decades to the 
Department of Defense (DoD).\1\ Before the advent of the PPBS 
budgeting system, the defense budget was described as follows:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ See, generally, Chapter IV, ``The FY 1963 Budget: Introducing 
the PPBS,'' History of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Volume 
5, The McNamara Ascendancy, Lawrence S. Kaplan, et al, Office of the 
Secretary, Historical Office (2006).

        The defense budget was far from the vital policy 
        instrument it should have been. Rather than a mechanism 
        for integrating strategy, forces, and costs, it was 
        essentially a bookkeeping device for dividing funds 
        between Services and accounts and a blunt instrument 
        for keeping a lid on defense spending. The information 
        contained in the defense budget was primarily useful 
        for day-to-day administration of the hundreds of 
        departments and agencies in DoD. It was not very useful 
        for helping the President, members of the Congress, and 
        the Secretary of Defense to establish priorities and 
        choose between competing programs. In fact, by focusing 
        their attention on individual appropriation titles such 
        as procurement or construction or personnel rather than 
        major missions such as strategic retaliatory forces or 
        continental air defense forces, it detracted from 
        making such judgments.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\ How Much is Enough?: Shaping the Defense Program 1961-1963, 
Alain C. Enthoven and K. Wayne Smith, Rand Corporation (2005, 1971) at 
11.

    The PPBE process is intended to better align resources and 
requirements.\3\ ``PPBE is an agency-wide methodology for 
aligning resources in a comprehensive, disciplined, top-down 
approach that supports the agency's vision and mission. It 
focuses on translating strategy into actionable programs and 
bringing together agency priorities and strategic outcomes 
within the agency's resource constraints.''\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\ Prior to the advent of PPBS at the DoD, Enthoven describes the 
prevailing system as: ``The results of requirements planning done 
without explicit regard to costs, and budget planning done without 
explicit regard to needs, were absolutely predictable: open ended 
requirements met arbitrary budget ceilings, and something had to give. 
Again, predictably, it was military requirements. The idea became 
accepted that the budget would meet less than the full stated 
requirement in any given year, with whatever remained being an 
unanalyzed `risk' to be accepted by the administration. Thus, the 
administration had its budget, the military its requirements. This 
approach was bound to produce imbalances and inconsistencies. Half of a 
$100-billion defense program chosen unsystematically is very different 
from a balanced, carefully chosen $50-billion program.'' Ibid, at 14.
    \4\ NASA Financial Management Requirements Volume 4 Planning 
Programming Budgeting and Execution July 2006 Office of the Chief 
Financial Officer, at 1-1.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Section 2 of H.R. 216, as amended, would assist the VA's 
nascent efforts in establishing a fully mature PPBE system 
within the VA by codifying the following framework:

Future-Years Veterans Program

    Section 2(a) of H.R. 216, as amended, would, beginning in 
FY 2020, require VA to submit a Future-Years Veterans Program 
with its annual budget submission. The Future-Years Veterans 
Program would lay out a five-year programming plan matched to 
the VA's current and projected needs and aligned with a 
carefully considered plan of action. The Future-Years Veterans 
Program would be submitted to Congress annually and published 
on a publicly accessible Internet website of the VA.

Quadrennial Veterans Review

    To inform the preparation of the Future-Years Veterans 
Program, section 2(b) of H.R. 216, as amended, requires VA to 
conduct a Quadrennial Veterans Review every four years, 
beginning in FY 2019. The Quadrennial Veterans Review is to be 
a comprehensive forward-looking examination of the 
opportunities, challenges, policies and strategies of the 
Nation as they relate to veterans. The QVR is the basis for the 
Future-Years Veterans Program, and ensures that VA's roadmap is 
aligned with where it needs to go. The QVR would be submitted 
to Congress and published on a publicly accessible Internet 
website of the VA.
    In addition to the process mandated in H.R. 216, as amended 
regarding the formulation of the QVR, an Independent Veterans 
Review Panel would be mandated. This panel would be comprised 
of 10 members who are ``recognized experts in matters relating 
to veterans'' and appointed by the Chair and Ranking Members of 
the Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and House of 
Representatives, as well as by the Secretary. The Panel would 
be charged with reviewing the process by which the QVR is 
formulated and would submit a report assessing the QVR to the 
Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and House of 
Representatives not later than three months after the QVR is 
submitted.

Policy Guidance

    Section 2(c) of H.R. 216, as amended, requires the 
Secretary to provide annual policy guidance to inform the 
preparation and review of VA's planning, programming and budget 
proposals to ensure that VA's near-term budgets are aligned 
with VA's longer term strategic outlook. This ensures overall 
accountability and that all of the VA's various components are 
aligned with its overall strategy.

Chief Strategy Officer

    Section 2(d) of H.R. 216, as amended, would designate a 
Chief Strategy Officer to provide the Secretary with long-range 
strategies and implications, and to bolster VA's analytical and 
cost-estimation capabilities.
    The Committee does not initially expect that VA will be 
able to provide the same level of detailed information in the 
Quadrennial Veterans Review (as added by section 2(b)) or the 
Future Years Veterans Program (as added by section 2(a)) as 
that provided by DoD and other federal agencies with more 
experience in the PPBE process, but the Committee does expect 
VA to strive to meet the overall goal of a robust PPBE system. 
The Committee believes that the PPBE system will lead to a more 
transparent resourcing process from VA, and enable the VA to 
weigh alternatives, enunciate milestones, more rationally plan 
for, and expend, resources across the entire department. PPBE 
will lead to more detailed budget submissions that will assist 
Congress in providing the resources needed by the VA. PPBE will 
provide a greater degree of transparency to the public 
regarding the resource requirements of the VA and the choices 
made by the Department to meet its mission. Finally, the 
Committee believes that a PPBE system is critical to support 
the advance appropriations funding mechanism currently in place 
for VA medical care and a number of VA mandatory accounts, 
which comprise about 94 percent of the VA's annual budget.
    The Committee believes that ultimately a PPBE system will 
lead to greater accountability and provide the tools for VA to 
meet its obligations to, in the words of Abraham Lincoln that 
serves as the VA's motto, ``care for him who shall have borne 
the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.''

                                Hearings

    On January, 27, 2015, the House Committee on Veterans' 
Affairs conducted a legislative hearing on H.R. 216. The 
following witnesses testified:
    The Honorable Alan Grayson of Florida; Mr. David R. 
McLenachen, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Disability 
Assistance, Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department 
of Veterans Affairs; accompanying Mr. Mclenachen was Dr. Rajiv 
Jain, Assistant Under Secretary for Health for Patient 
Services, Veterans Health Administration; Ms. Susan Sullivan, 
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning, and Ms. Kim 
McLeod, Counsel, Office of General Counsel, all of the U.S. 
Department of Veterans Affairs; Mr. Joseph A. Violante, 
National Legislative Director, Disabled American Veterans; Mr. 
Aleks Morosky, Deputy Director National Legislative Service, 
Veterans of Foreign Wars; Mr. Zachary Hearn, Deputy Director of 
Claims of the Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission of 
The American Legion; and Blake Ortner, Deputy Government 
Relations Director.

                       Subcommittee Consideration

    There was no Subcommittee consideration of these bills.

                        Committee Consideration

    On February 12, 2015, the full Committee met in an open 
markup session, a quorum being present, and ordered H.R. 216, 
as amended, reported favorably to the House of Representatives 
by voice vote.
    During consideration of H.R. 216, the following amendments 
were considered and agreed to by voice vote:
    An amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by Ms. 
Brown of Florida that removed a study requirement and added 
provisions relating to publication, and an amendment to the 
amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by Mr. Lamborn 
of Colorado adding a provision establishing an Independent 
Veterans Review Panel.

                            Committee Votes

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires the Committee to list the recorded 
votes on the motion to report the legislation and amendments 
thereto. There were no recorded votes taken on amendments or in 
connection with ordering H.R. 216, as amended, reported to the 
House. A motion by Ranking Member Corrine Brown of Florida to 
report H.R. 216, as amended, favorably to the House of 
Representatives was agreed to by voice vote.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of 
this report.

         Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance 
goals and objectives are reflected in the descriptive portions 
of this report.

   New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee adopts as its 
own the estimate of new budget authority, entitlement 
authority, or tax expenditures or revenues contained in the 
cost estimate prepared by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974.

                  Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits

    H.R. 216, as amended, does not contain any Congressional 
earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as 
defined in clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives.

                        Committee Cost Estimate

    The Committee adopts as its own the cost estimate on H.R. 
216, as amended, prepared by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the following is the cost estimate 
for H.R. 216, as amended, provided by the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, March 2, 2015.
Hon. Jeff Miller,
Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 216, the 
Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Planning Reform Act of 
2015.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Dwayne M. 
Wright.
            Sincerely,
                                      Douglas W. Elmendorf,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 216--Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Planning Reform Act of 
        2015

    H.R. 216 would require the Department of Veterans Affairs 
(VA) to submit several reports to the Congress and to designate 
a current Assistant Secretary as the Chief Strategy Officer 
(CSO) for the department. CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 
216 would cost $3 million over the 2016-2020 period, subject to 
the availability of appropriated funds. Enacting H.R. 216 would 
not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-
go procedures do not apply.
    Section 2 would require VA to submit to the Congress 
several reports. The first report would be entitled the Future-
Years Veterans Program and would include a spending plan for 
the subsequent five years as well as a plan for meeting the 
goals of the department. It would be included as part of VA's 
annual budget submission to the Congress, starting with the 
budget submission for 2020. VA also would be required to 
complete a quadrennial review of the policies, strategies, 
benefits, and services for veterans provided by the department. 
That review would start in 2019 and be completed every four 
years thereafter. Based on the costs of existing reporting 
requirements, CBO estimates that preparing the required report 
and review would cost $1 million over the 2016-2020 period.
    In every year for which a quadrennial review is being 
conducted, VA also would be required to establish an 
Independent Veterans Review Panel of 10 individuals appointed 
by the Congress and VA to conduct a review and assessment of 
the assumptions, strategies, and findings of the quadrennial 
review. The individuals comprising the Independent Veteran 
Review Panel would be eligible for compensation not to exceed 
the pay for a federal employee being paid at the GS-15 General 
Schedule pay rate. Based on this information, CBO estimates 
that operating the review panel would cost about $1 million 
over the 2016-2020 period.
    Section 3 would require VA to designate a current Assistant 
Secretary as the CSO for the department. The CSO would be 
responsible for providing advice and analysis regarding the 
programming and budgeting of department activities. CBO 
estimates that providing a staff to support activities of the 
CSO would cost $1 million over the 2016-2020 period.
    H.R. 216 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Dwayne M. 
Wright. The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates regarding H.R. 216, as amended, prepared by the 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 
423 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

                      Advisory Committee Statement

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act would be created by H.R. 
216, as amended.

                 Statement of Constitutional Authority

    Pursuant to Article I, section 8 of the United States 
Constitution, the reported bill is authorized by Congress' 
power to ``provide for the common Defense and general Welfare 
of the United States.''

                  Applicability to Legislative Branch

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.

              Statement on Duplication of Federal Programs

    Pursuant to section 3(g) of H. Res. 5, 114th Cong. (2015), 
the Committee finds that no provision of H.R. 216, as amended, 
establishes or reauthorizes a program of the Federal Government 
known to be duplicative of another Federal program, a program 
that was included in any report from the Government 
Accountability Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of 
Public Law 111-139, or a program related to a program 
identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance.

                   Disclosure of Directed Rulemaking

    Pursuant to section 3(i) of H. Res. 5, 114th Cong. (2015), 
the Committee estimates that H.R. 216, as amended, does not 
require directed rule making.

             Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation


Section 1--Short title

    Section 1 would establish the short title of H.R. 216, as 
amended, as the ``Department of Veterans Affairs Budget 
Planning Reform Act of 2015.''

Section 2--Establishment of strategic plans to improve programs and 
        benefits for veterans

    Section 2(a) would, beginning with the submission of the 
Fiscal Year 2020 VA budget, require the submission of a 
``Future-Years Veterans Program'' reflecting the estimated 
expenditures and proposed appropriations necessary to support 
the programs, projects, and activities of VA. The Future-Years 
Veterans Program would cover, at a minimum, the budget year and 
the subsequent four fiscal years. The Future-Years Veterans 
Program would be submitted to Congress annually and published 
on a publicly accessible Internet website of the VA.
    Section 2(b) would require, beginning in fiscal year 2019, 
VA to conduct a ``Quadrennial Veterans Review'' every four 
years to study the strategy for meeting the commitment of the 
United States to veterans and the resources necessary to meet 
that commitment. The reviews would be comprehensive of all 
programs/policies and would include recommendations on the 
resources necessary to effect the execution of the elements of 
the strategic review. The reviews would be required to be 
coordinated with the Future-Years Veterans Program and would be 
developed in consultation with other key officials of VA, the 
heads of other Federal agencies, and other relevant 
governmental and nongovernmental entities. The contents of the 
reviews would include a delineated veterans strategy consistent 
with the commitment of the United States to veterans; a 
prioritization of the full range of programs and capabilities 
regarding veterans provided by the Federal Government; an 
identification of the budget plan required to provide 
sufficient resources to successfully execute the full range of 
such programs and capabilities; an assessment of the 
organizational alignment of VA with respect to any such 
strategy; a review and assessment of the effectiveness of the 
mechanisms of the Department for executing the process of 
turning the requirements identified in the quadrennial review 
into a plan to meet the requirements; and an identification of 
emerging trends, problems, opportunities, and issues that could 
veterans or VA during the ten-year period following the period 
covered by the review. Following the review a report would be 
required to be submitted to the House and Senate Committees on 
Veterans' Affairs in the year following the year in which the 
review was conducted. The QVR would be submitted to Congress 
and published on a publicly accessible Internet website of the 
VA.
    In addition to the process mandated in H.R. 216, as amended 
regarding the formulation of the QVR, an Independent Veterans 
Review Panel would be mandated. This panel would be comprised 
of 10 members who are ``recognized experts in matters relating 
to veterans'' and appointed by the Chair and Ranking Members of 
the Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and House of 
Representatives, as well as by the Secretary. The Panel would 
be charged with reviewing the process by which the QVR is 
formulated and would submit a report assessing the QVR to the 
Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and House of 
Representatives not later than three months after the QVR is 
submitted.
    Section 2(c) would require the VA Secretary to provide 
annually written policy guidance to appropriate VA officials 
for the preparation and review of the planning and program 
recommendations and budget proposals of the various elements of 
VA. Such guidance would include the objectives of VA in 
accordance with the Future-Years Veterans Program and the 
quadrennial veterans review, as well as the resource levels 
projected to be available for the period of time for which such 
recommendations and proposals are to be in effect.
    Section 2(d) would require VA to designate among the 
existing, authorized number of Assistant Secretaries one to 
function as VA's ``Chief Strategy Officer.'' The Chief Strategy 
Officer (CSO) would be the Secretary's principal advisor on 
long-range strategy and the implications of that strategy. The 
CSO would also be responsible for the development and execution 
of the Future-Years Veterans Program.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (new matter is 
printed in italic and existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



PART I--GENERAL PROVISIONS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                           CHAPTER 1--GENERAL


Sec.
101. Definitions.
     * * * * * * *
119. Future-Years Veterans Program.
120. Quadrennial veterans review.
121. Policy guidance.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 119. Future-Years Veterans Program

  (a) Submission to Congress.--The Secretary shall submit to 
Congress each year, at or about the time that the President's 
budget is submitted to Congress pursuant to section 1105(a) of 
title 31, a Future-Years Veterans Program reflecting the 
estimated expenditures and proposed appropriations included in 
that budget. Any such Future-Years Veterans Program shall cover 
the fiscal year with respect to which the budget is submitted 
and at least the four succeeding fiscal years.
  (b) Consistency.--(1) The Secretary shall ensure that amounts 
described in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (2) for any fiscal 
year are consistent with amounts described in subparagraph (B) 
of such paragraph for that fiscal year.
  (2) Amounts referred to in paragraph (1) are the following:
          (A) The amounts specified in program and budget 
        information submitted to Congress by the Secretary in 
        support of expenditure estimates and proposed 
        appropriations in the budget submitted to Congress by 
        the President under section 1105(a) of title 31 for any 
        fiscal year, as shown in the Future-Years Veterans 
        Program submitted pursuant to subsection (a).
          (B) The total amounts of estimated expenditures and 
        proposed appropriations necessary to support the 
        programs, projects, and activities of the Department of 
        Veterans Affairs included pursuant to paragraph (5) of 
        section 1105(a) of title 31 in the budget submitted to 
        Congress under that section for any fiscal year.
  (c) Contents.--The Future-Years Veterans Program under 
subsection (a) shall set forth the five-year plan of the 
Department to address the commitment of the United States to 
veterans and the resources necessary to meet that commitment 
and shall be developed and updated, as appropriate, annually by 
the Secretary. Each Future-Years Veterans Program shall include 
an explanation of--
          (1) the information that was used to develop program 
        planning guidance for the Future-Years Veterans 
        Program; and
          (2) how the resource allocations included in the 
        Future-Years Veterans Program correlate to such five-
        year strategy.
  (d) Publication.--The Secretary shall publish on a publically 
accessible Internet website of the Department each Future-Years 
Veterans Program submitted pursuant to subsection (a).

Sec. 120. Quadrennial veterans review

  (a) Requirement.--(1) Not later than fiscal year 2019, and 
every fourth year thereafter, the Secretary shall conduct a 
review of the strategy for meeting the commitment of the United 
States to veterans and the resources necessary to meet that 
commitment (in this section referred to as a ``quadrennial 
veterans review'').
  (2) Each quadrennial veterans review shall include a 
comprehensive examination of the policies and strategies of the 
United States with respect to veterans, including 
recommendations regarding the long-term strategy and priorities 
for programs, services, benefits, and outcomes regarding 
veterans and guidance on the programs, assets, capabilities, 
budget, policies, and authorities of the Department.
  (3) The Secretary shall conduct each quadrennial veterans 
review in consultation with key officials of the Department, 
the heads of other Federal agencies, and other relevant 
governmental and nongovernmental entities, including State, 
local, and tribal government officials, members of Congress, 
veterans service organizations, private sector representatives, 
academics, and other policy experts.
  (4) The Secretary shall ensure that each quadrennial veterans 
review is coordinated with the Future-Years Veterans Program 
required under section 119 of this title.
  (b) Contents of Review.--In each quadrennial veterans review, 
the Secretary shall--
          (1) delineate a veterans strategy consistent with the 
        commitment of the United States to veterans and refine 
        a strategy for the types of, and provision of, 
        programs, services, benefits, and outcomes consistent 
        with current authorities and requirements;
          (2) outline and prioritize the full range of programs 
        and capabilities regarding veterans provided by the 
        Federal Government;
          (3) identify the budget plan required to provide 
        sufficient resources to successfully execute the full 
        range of such programs and capabilities;
          (4) include an assessment of the organizational 
        alignment of the Department with respect to the 
        strategy referred to in paragraph (1) and the programs 
        and capabilities referred to in paragraph (2);
          (5) review and assess the effectiveness of the 
        mechanisms of the Department for executing the process 
        of turning the requirements identified in the 
        quadrennial veterans review into a plan to meet such 
        requirements, including an expenditure plan for the 
        Department; and
          (6) identify emerging trends, problems, 
        opportunities, and issues that could affect veterans or 
        the Department during the ten-year period following the 
        period covered by the review.
  (c) Submission to Congress.--(1) The Secretary shall submit 
to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the 
House of Representatives a report regarding each quadrennial 
veterans review. The Secretary shall submit the report in the 
year following the year in which the review is conducted, but 
not later than the date on which the President submits to 
Congress the budget for the next fiscal year under section 1105 
of title 31.
  (2) Each report submitted under paragraph (1) shall include--
          (A) the results of the quadrennial veterans review;
          (B) a description of the challenges to, and 
        opportunities for, the assumed or defined veterans-
        related interests of the Nation that were examined for 
        the purposes of that review;
          (C) the strategy for meeting the Nation's commitment 
        to veterans, including a prioritized list of the 
        missions of the Department;
          (D) a description of the interagency cooperation, 
        preparedness of Federal assets, infrastructure, budget 
        plan, and other elements of the programs and policies 
        of the Nation associated with the strategy referred to 
        in subsection (b)(1) that are required to execute 
        successfully the full range of programs and 
        capabilities identified in such strategy and the 
        programs and capabilities outlined under subsection 
        (b)(2);
          (E) an assessment of the organizational alignment of 
        the Department with the strategy referred to in 
        subsection (b)(1) and the programs and capabilities 
        outlined under subsection (b)(2), including the 
        Department's organizational structure, management 
        systems, budget and accounting systems, human resources 
        systems, procurement systems, and physical and 
        technical infrastructure;
          (F) a discussion of the status of cooperation among 
        Federal agencies in the effort to promote national 
        support for veterans;
          (G) a discussion of the status of cooperation between 
        the Federal Government and State, local, and tribal 
        governments in supporting veterans and providing 
        programs, services, benefits, and outcomes to assist 
        veterans;
          (H) an explanation of any underlying assumptions used 
        in conducting the review; and
          (I) any other matter the Secretary considers 
        appropriate.
  (d) Publication.--The Secretary shall publish on a publically 
accessible Internet website of the Department each quadrennial 
veterans review submitted pursuant to subsection (c).
  (e) Independent Veterans Review Panel.--(1) Not later than 
February 1 of a year in which a quadrennial veterans review is 
conducted under this section, the Secretary shall establish an 
independent panel to be known as the Independent Veterans 
Review Panel (in this subsection referred to as the ``Panel''). 
The Panel shall have the duties set forth in this subsection.
  (2) The Panel shall be composed of 10 members who are 
recognized experts in matters relating to veterans. The members 
shall be appointed as follows:
          (A) Two by the chairman of the Committee on Veterans' 
        Affairs of the House of Representatives.
          (B) Two by the chairman of the Committee on Veterans' 
        Affairs of the Senate.
          (C) Two by the ranking member of the Committee on 
        Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives.
          (D) Two by the ranking member of the Committee on 
        Veterans' Affairs of the Senate.
          (E) Two by the Secretary, who shall serve as co-
        chairs of the panel.
  (3) Members shall be appointed for the life of the Panel. Any 
vacancy in the Panel shall be filled in the same manner as the 
original appointment.
  (4) The Panel shall have the following duties with respect to 
a quadrennial veterans review:
          (A) While the review is being conducted, the Panel 
        shall review the updates from the Secretary required 
        under paragraph (7) on the progress of the conduct of 
        the review.
          (B) The Panel shall--
                  (i) review the Secretary's terms of reference 
                and any other materials providing the basis 
                for, or substantial inputs to, the work of the 
                Department of Veterans Affairs on the 
                quadrennial veterans review;
                  (ii) conduct an assessment of the 
                assumptions, strategy, findings, and risks 
                included in the report on the quadrennial 
                veterans review required in subsection (c);
                  (iii) conduct an independent assessment of a 
                variety of strategies for delivering services 
                and support to veterans;
                  (iv) review the resource requirements 
                identified pursuant to subsection (b)(3) and, 
                to the extent practicable, make a general 
                comparison to the resource requirements to 
                support the strategies assessed under this 
                subparagraph; and
                  (v) provide to the Committees on Veterans' 
                Affairs of the Senate and the House of 
                Representatives and the Secretary, through the 
                report under paragraph (7), any recommendations 
                the Panel determines appropriate.
  (5) If the Secretary has not appointed members to the Panel 
under paragraph (2)(E) by February 1 of a year in which a 
quadrennial veterans review is conducted under this section, 
the Panel shall convene for its first meeting with the 
remaining members.
  (6) Not later than three months after the date on which the 
report on a quadrennial veterans review is submitted under 
subsection (c) to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the 
Senate and the House of Representatives, the Panel shall submit 
to such committees a report containing an assessment of the 
quadrennial veterans review, including a description of the 
items addressed under paragraph (4) with respect to that 
quadrennial veterans review.
  (7) Periodically, but not less often than every 60 days 
during the life of the panel, or at the request of the co-
chairs, the Secretary shall brief the Panel on the progress of 
the conduct of the quadrennial veterans review.
  (8)(A) The Panel may request directly from the Department 
such information as the Panel considers necessary to carry out 
its duties under this subsection. The Secretary shall cooperate 
with the Panel to ensure that information requested by the 
Panel under this subparagraph is promptly provided to the 
maximum extent practical.
  (B) Upon the request of the co-chairs, the Secretary shall 
make available to the Panel the services of any federally 
funded research and development center that is covered by a 
sponsoring agreement of the Department.
  (C) The Panel shall have the authorities provided in section 
3161 of title 5 and shall be subject to the conditions set 
forth in such section.
  (D) Funds for activities of the Panel shall be provided from 
amounts available to the Department.
  (9) The Panel shall terminate 45 days after the date on which 
the Panel submits the report on the quadrennial veterans review 
under paragraph (6).

Sec. 121. Policy guidance

  The Secretary shall provide annually to the appropriate 
officials of the Department written policy guidance for the 
preparation and review of the planning and program 
recommendations and budget proposals of the elements of the 
Department of such officials. Such guidance shall include 
guidance on the objectives of the Department in accordance with 
Future-Years Veterans Program under section 119 of this title 
and the quadrennial veterans review under section 120 and the 
resource levels projected to be available for the period of 
time for which such recommendations and proposals are to be 
effective.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


               CHAPTER 3--DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS


Sec.
301. Department.
     * * * * * * *
323. Chief Strategy Officer.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 323. Chief Strategy Officer

  (a) In General.--The Secretary shall designate the Assistant 
Secretary whose functions include planning, studies, and 
evaluations as the Chief Strategy Officer of the Department. 
The Chief Strategy Officer shall advise the Secretary on long-
range strategy and implications.
  (b) Responsibilities.--The Chief Strategy Officer is the 
principal advisor to the Secretary and other senior officials 
of the Department, and shall provide independent analysis and 
advice to the Secretary and such officials. The Chief Strategy 
Officer shall carry out the following responsibilities:
          (1) Conducting cost estimation and cost analysis for 
        the programs of the Department.
          (2) Establishing policies for, and overseeing the 
        integration of, the planning, programming, budgeting 
        and execution process for the Department.
          (3) Providing analysis and advice on matters relating 
        to the planning and programming phase of the planning, 
        programming, budgeting and execution process, and the 
        preparation of materials and guidance for such process, 
        as directed by the Secretary, working in coordination 
        with the Assistant Secretary for Management.
          (4) Developing and executing the Future-Years 
        Veterans Program of the Department, as specified under 
        section 119 of this title.
          (5) Developing resource discussions relating to 
        requirements under consideration in the quadrennial 
        veterans review under section 120 of this title.
          (6) Formulating study guidance for analysis of 
        alternatives for programs and initiatives, including 
        any necessary acquisitions, development, or procurement 
        commensurate with such alternatives, and performance of 
        such analysis as directed by the Secretary.
          (7) Reviewing, analyzing, and evaluating programs for 
        executing approved strategies and policies, ensuring 
        that information on programs and expected outcomes is 
        presented accurately and completely.
          (8) Ensuring that the costs of programs and 
        alternatives are presented accurately and completely by 
        assisting in establishing standards, policies, and 
        procedures for the conduct of cost estimation and cost 
        analysis throughout the Department, including guidance 
        relating to the proper selection of confidence levels 
        in cost estimates generally and for specific programs 
        of the Department.
          (9) Conducting studies at the request of the 
        Secretary regarding costs, policy assumptions, and 
        strategic implications of current policies and possible 
        alternatives.
          (10) Communicating directly to the Secretary and the 
        Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs about matters for 
        which the Chief Strategy Officer is responsible without 
        obtaining the approval or concurrence of any other 
        official within the Department.

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