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McCombs School Partners with VA to Improve Services for U.S. Veterans

A program within the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin is teaming up with the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve services for veterans. 

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AUSTIN, Texas — A program within the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin is teaming up with the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve services for veterans.

The Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program in the McCombs School of Business has formalized a relationship with the Department of Veterans Affairs Financial Services Center (FSC) to provide graduate student expertise in support of the VA’s efforts to increase efficiency and reduce fraud.

“Ultimately, FSC sees the collaboration as a means to improve a range of outcomes for VA aimed at improving the veteran experience, from reducing wait times, reducing fraud, to identifying issues not even known at this time,” said Christopher Pate, chief of data analytics for the FSC.

This collaboration marks the first time the FSC has partnered with an academic institution and the first partnership between VA and the McCombs School. The partnership began this fall and will continue for three years. Each year, graduate students in the MSBA program will work on a capstone project for the FSC. This year’s MSBA class will present final capstone ideas in April 2017.

“Students will gain access to real-world problems, projects and industry domain experts that will enrich their analytics knowledge through experiential learning and practical problem-solving methods,” said Ramesh Rajagopalan, associate director of the MSBA program. “We are already in the process of launching an MSBA capstone project with VA FSC in the area of fraud detection analytics.”

The partnership is expected to drive innovation in analytics through field research in areas such as health care analytics, resources allocation models, fraud detection analytics and programs within Medicare and Medicaid. This will be enabled by close interactions between McCombs School faculty members and the FSC, which is expected to expand the scope of knowledge sharing through research forums and conferences.

“FSC sought out this partnership not only because it aligned with the VA secretary’s objective to increase strategic partnerships, but also in recognition of the McCombs MSBA program’s outstanding reputation in this space, which we are confident will add tangible but immeasurable value to FSC and the veterans we serve,” Pate said.