VA responds to GAO criticism of IT management

The General Accounting Office this month released a report criticizing the Department of Veterans Affairs for failing to have a sound strategy for using and buying information technology. The report comes only weeks after the VA announced it would create the Office of the Assistant Secretary for In

The General Accounting Office this month released a report criticizing the Department of Veterans Affairs for failing to have a sound strategy for using and buying information technology.

The report comes only weeks after the VA announced it would create the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology to help the department squeeze greater efficiency and better service out of its sprawling network of medical centers and benefits offices.

"One VA"

In a written response to a draft of the GAO report, Dennis Duffy, the VA's assistant secretary for policy and planning, concurred with GAO's recommendations and said the department's new assistant secretary would be key in helping the VA integrate its information systems so that the department can realize its "one VA" vision, in which each of the VA's 1,000-plus medical sites nationwide would have easier access to information at other VA sites.

The department has acted on two of the recommendations in the report, having decided in recent weeks on a suite of Microsoft Corp. software products to use across the agency and having created a new full-time chief information officer position [FCW, July 20].

"The fact that they did go ahead and announce that new position will go a long way to addressing needs," said Delores Moorehead, special assistant for information management and technology at the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. Members of the committee, including chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), requested in September that GAO look into IT practices at the VA.

In the report, GAO took aim at how the VA has examined its business processes and linked them to IT, stating that the agency has not developed an overall strategy for improving its business processes. The strategy will heavily influence what kind of technologies the VA will use.

"In addition, VA has not institutionalized a disciplined process for selecting, controlling and evaluating information technology as required by the Clinger-Cohen Act," the report stated.

Observers see efficient use of IT as critical to improving the quality of health care delivered at VA medical centers, which serve a potential population of 70 million veterans and their immediate families.

"Integration strategy is crucial because health care is so complex," said Lewis Lorton, executive director of the Healthcare Open Systems & Trials organization, a nonprofit consortium that focuses on how IT can improve health care. "If you don't do things in a similar way, you're not going to be able to share information."

Sharing information is key if, in the short term, a doctor wants to make a fully informed decision on how to treat a patient based on the patient's medical history, Lorton said.

In the long run, Lorton added, IT becomes a tool for analyzing health care trends and determining where to spend resources.

"You get the ability...to treat the patient well because you can use all the information that you have in different places," Lorton said. "Information is what makes health care."

But getting to a point at which information can easily be shared will require intense management, observers said. "It's the leadership at the top that I perceive as missing," Moorehead said.

And, according to a source, management will have to do more than preach the "one VA" vision to employees and contractors.

"Anybody can have a vision. The big issue is how...you connect a vision with what you have right now," according to the source.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.