CIR Launches API Allowing Public Access to VA Backlog Related Data

Janet Wagner, May 9th, 2013

Department of Veterans AffairsThe Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), one of the oldest nonprofit investigative reporting organizations in the United States, has just announced the launch of the brand new VA Backlog API which allows anyone to access the VA backlog-related data available in the CIR database.

Back in August 2012, the CIR published an interactive map (updated weekly) that demonstrates and compares in real-time the backlogs and wait times at 58 VA regional offices. Since the publication of the VA backlog interactive map, many well known journalists and media outlets have been citing CIR’s data analysis in stories that bring attention to the VA backlog. CIR data analysis has been used in reporting of the VA backlog by The Daily Show, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Fox News, MSNBC Melissa Harris-Perry, NPR, CNN and many more.

VA Backlog Interactive Map

Image Credit: CIR

The new VA Backlog API is available to the public and can be used to create VA backlog data-driven applications for websites and mobile devices as well as to create interactive visualizations such as maps, charts and graphs. The only requirement for using the VA Backlog API is that a link crediting The Center for Investigative Reporting be displayed on the website or application. Data returned by the API is available in JSON and JSONP data formats. The CIR has also made the VA backlog data available for download in CSV spreadsheet format. The VA backlog data includes:

  • Veterans waiting on a disability claim – Pending claims. Number of veterans and veteran family members waiting for a response from the VA.
  • Average processing time – Average number of days a veteran waits for a decision from the VA.
  • Average wait for new claims – The average number of days a veteran filing a claim for the first time waits for a response from the VA.
  • Average time to decide an appeal – The average number of days a veteran waits for a response from the VA if they were denied their original claim and had to appeal.
  • Completed claims – The number of claims processed by the VA by month.
  • Claims received – The number of claims received by the VA by month.
  • Claims completed per FTE – The number of claims processed per VA claims employee over the course of a year.
  • Employees on duty – Number of claims staff working at the Veterans Service Center at each VA regional office.
  • Claims pending at least 125 days – The number of unprocessed claims at least 125 days old, including appeals.
  • Claims pending at least one year – The number of unprocessed claims at least a year old, including appeals.

If you are interested in using the VA Backlog API, documentation and code samples can be accessed at GitHub.

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