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Project Synopsis: Longitudinal Study of the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program

EconSys worked with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to collect and evaluate data from a statistically valid sample of veterans participating in the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Chapter 31 Program. Section 334 of the 2008 Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act tasked VA with conducting a 20-year longitudinal study of the outcomes of those who apply for VR&E services. The goal of this study was to determine the long-term outcomes of those who participated in areas of income, employment, home ownership, and other public programs.

There were several challenges identified in administering a longitudinal study for the VR&E program. Because Veterans are only in the program for a maximum of seven years, there was potential confusion from participants who were no longer in the program. Additionally, at times, contact information was no longer available. Requirements included addressing the feasibility of the sampling plan and maintaining the integrity and consistency of the reporting while adding analysis based on changes to the program in the preceding year.

Why Did the Department of Veterans Affairs Choose EconSys?

VA needed a partner who had conducted similar large-scale studies due to the challenges associated with conducting a longitudinal study mid-stream. EconSys had previously worked on comparable projects and had extensive experience in the fields of:

  • Survey administration
  • Survey support
  • Survey analysis and reporting
  • Survey reporting enhancements

EconSys leveraged the newest technology and resources available to produce interactive analyses and reports that provided a greater, more accessible level of understanding.

Our Solution

EconSys administered the FY2016 survey successfully and produced a final report without making any drastic changes that would have confused respondents. To accomplish this, we addressed several key areas of the project, including:

  • The Survey – Using a multi-mode approach, our team administered the survey to 11,000 Veterans. This included a change of address review and data collection to ensure accurate contact information for each respondent. We subsequently determined that a revised sampling strategy would be needed that rotated in Veterans from outside the initial sample.
  • Support Center – We implemented a survey support center with a dedicated phone line and email address. This helped Veterans throughout the administration period, answering their technical questions, routing inquiries to the appropriate departments and individuals, and completing surveys over the phone.
  • Survey Reporting – Our team has extensive experience in writing reports from highly technical data for a broad audience. We analyzed and reported observed patterns of behavior, recommended specific courses of action and presented solid assessments based on the study results.
  • Report Enhancements – EconSys further enhanced the reporting to reflect program changes, and to visualize and highlight key findings in the Executive Summary.

Through the systematic survey sampling process and our analytical experience, we produced a final report that exceeded the client’s expectations and helped to better illustrate program outcomes. We continue to conduct additional surveys as part of the multi-year contract, helping VR&E to improve services for Veterans. Download the full case study to read more about our approach.