Methods and Actions for Improving Performance of the Department of Defense Disability Evaluation System

by Cheryl Y. Marcum, Robert M. Emmerichs, Jennifer Sloan McCombs, Harry J. Thie


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The Disability Evaluation System (DES) is a management tool used by the Department of Defense to determine the disposition of a service member who has a medical condition that calls into question the member's ability to perform his or her duties. The DES exists to evaluate service members with such medical conditions, remove those unable to fulfill their duties, and determine a disability rating for those who are removed. This book focuses on four major research tasks related to improving system performance: developing a basis for assessing DES outcomes, identifying issues of variability in DES policy application, conducting a DES training analysis and presenting recommended changes, and developing a method for continuously monitoring DES performance. As part of their findings, the authors constructed a set of desired system outcomes and from that framework suggest comprehensive training and information management interventions to improve overall system performance. The authors also identify groups of primary DES participants and outline the specific bodies of knowledge and skills the participants require to execute disability policy consistently throughout the military departments.

Table of Contents

  • Preface PDF

  • Figures PDF

  • Tables PDF

  • Summary PDF

  • Acknowledgements

    Acknowledgments PDF

  • Acronyms PDF

  • Chapter One

    Introduction PDF

  • Chapter Two

    Background on the Disability Evaluation System PDF

  • Chapter Three

    Disability Evaluation System Overview PDF

  • Chapter Four

    Issues and Interventions for Achieveing Consistent Policy Application PDF

  • Chapter Five

    Disability Evaluation System Training Analysis and Recommended Changes in Training to Improve System Performance PDF

  • Chapter Six

    Monitoring System Performance PDF

  • Chapter Seven

    Costs and Benefits of Training PDF

  • Chapter Eight

    Conclusions PDF

  • Appendix A

    Overview of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense and Organizational Responsibility for the Disability Evaluation System PDF

  • Appendix B

    Military Department Interpretations of the Purpose of the Disability Evaluation System PDF

  • Appendix C

    Disability Evaluation System Issues PDF

  • Appendix D

    Example of Goal Fabric Analysis Development PDF

  • Appendix E

    Relating Actions to Objectives PDF

  • Appendix F

    Comparing the Issues-Driven and Purpose-Driven Analytic Approaches PDF

  • Appendix G

    Disability Evaluation System Training Topics for Primary Participant Populations Across Military Departments PDF

  • Appendix H

    Description of Metrics for Assessing Disability Evaluation System Performance PDF

  • Appendix I

    Cost-Benefit Analysis Data PDF

  • Bibliography PDF

The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's National Security Research Division.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.