Up to now, this was merely an annoying delay. What is becoming apparent is that the publishers entrusted with getting decisions out in the online version are callously ignoring us and failing to publish them. Or, conversely, they are disabling the system so as to render them inaccessible.
Attempting to view any decision in 2012, even if you can get it to come up, yields the “Gee, sorry. That link is broken. Please try again next year.” It is now July 15th, 2012 and the year is half over plus 15 days. We have seen nary a decision that is viewable on their site. Veterans depend on these to teach them what vA’s latest technique is for denial. Since that changes all the time, we by necessity must stay on top of it. The decisions are published. That much we know. If you torque the settings and dig, you can see them posted. Accessing them is futile.
I try to steer clear of two things on this site. Politics and conspiracy theories are a dead horse. Whipping them doesn’t bring them back to life. The BvA is up to something because this isn’t an IT glitch. They’ve been publishing them for as long as I can remember. What they have been noted for perennially is the lag time of about three months on average. In no instance can I recall a delay of this magnitude. Any queries about it are greeted with a form letter that says “We’re looking into it.”
I hope they haven’t elected to use this as one of their cost-cutting ploys and then publish them en mass at the end of the year. If you haven’t noticed , they have subtly changed the web site over the last several years. Where we could once view all HCV decisions, we are now limited to the first 400 they choose to allow us to see. They have also eliminated the instructions for the Boolean search that allowed you to narrowly define the parameters of what you sought. It still exists but if you were never party to the knowledge, they aren’t handing it out.
Boolean search technique, for those of you interested, works like this. You want to find decisions that contain HCV and PCT (for example). Simply typing these in won’t bring up the results you expect. By using quotes around “HCV” and the symbol “+” then “PCT”, you isolate your search. Hence “HCV”+”PCT” with no spaces in between will give you what you seek. vA took this off the site in 2010. Why? Sorry, no conspiracy freaks allowed here. It made sense because they don’t want you snooping. That’s common sense- not a conspiracy. They sure didn’t make any attempt to hide it. They simply removed it. It still exists somewhere because I used that tiny search bar up in the right top to look for it and got a whole page of examples-sort of. Here’s one that mentions it but I can see no way to click on just the Boolean facet. If you try it on the site it works-it’s just invisible to the uninitiated.
|July 2009 A Librarian?s…|
4. Is Boolean searching available? Truncation and wildcard searching? Proximity searching? 5. Is the keyword or relationship searching ability thorough? Is phrase searching available? Is natural language or keyword searchingmapped to a controlled vocabulary?
|http://www.va.gov/valnet/docs/Electronic_Resource_Evaluation_Checklist.docx | Search This Site Similarly, limiting your viewing of a particular subject to the 400 they allow you to view is a form of censorship. What if they only allowed you to look at the denials and excluded any wins. How would you gather evidence and technique to learn why and how others won? The short answer is you wouldn’t.
Now, with the advent of the “no decisions” at all, we have no way to determine what vA has in store for us. As I mentioned, every inquiry so far has resulted in no more than a desultory “We’ll look into it” but I have not had any return calls explaining the deficiency. we’ll keep you posted.
P.S. Randy sends me this from Aunt Iris