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VA center in Texas accidentally deleted data files

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By The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

CLEVELAND — The Department of Veterans Affairs accidentally deleted 464,000 electronic data files last month that contained information about home loans.

No personal information was jeopardized, according to a statement from the VA released on Tuesday.

The agency blamed human error at its information technology center in Austin, Texas. Reports that the error was made at the VA's regional office in Cleveland were incorrect, VA spokesman Craig Lawson said.

The records included loans, grants and applications. The online application program was restored within a few days after the records were erased on May 24.

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio sent a letter on Monday to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, asking for information about when the department and applicants were told about the error and how they'll be affected.

The senator criticized the “limited communication and delayed incident reporting.”

The deleted files from the online application program were from March 18 to May 24.

No files from April 25 to May 24 could be recovered, while about half of the files from March 18 to April 24 were recovered.

The agency said staff will be retrained to help prevent the error from occurring again.

Lenders, appraisers and staff appraisal reviewers have been asked to resubmit appraisals for pending loan closings, according to the VA statement.

“This incident only further exacerbates the frustration many veterans feel,” Portman said.

The department has received increasing criticism this year for a backlog of disability claims. It announced in April that 250,000 veterans waiting more than a year for a decision on their disability claims would move to the front of the line.

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