State lawmakers oppose open source for VA health records

Single-vendor approach at odds with VA's plans for open source development

A group of Wisconsin lawmakers are trying to talk the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments to abandon their plan for an open-source approach to digital health records, according to a report today by Bob Brewin, in Nextgov. Instead, the legislators want the agencies to use a single commercial vendor to handle their digital health records because that approach would be faster to deploy, more efficient and better for patient safety -- and could provide a contract for a Wisconsin company,

If VA and DOD accept that recommendation, it potentially could cause a delay in current plans for integration and modernization of VA and DOD record systems, Brewin reports. It also could benefit medical record system solutions provider Epic Systems Corp. of Verona, Wisconsin.

In a response to one of the Wisconsin lawmakers, Roger Baker, VA assistant secretary for information and technology, stood by the open source approach.

Related articles:

VA considers open source ecosystem for VistA

DOD, VA prepare recommendation for joint EHR for late March, officials say

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 Jayce Savannah

I wonder if Canada will consider annexing Wisconson?

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 John Denver

I'm wondering why a group of lawmakers has any business dealing with technology choices...they must be in the vendors' pocket - follow the money!

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 1govaudit

I could not recommend using a sole source approach when there are other viable options. All legislators should consider that their actions are possibly being watched more closely now. Earmarking and influence peddling sometimes appear very closely related activities to observers.

Thu, Mar 24, 2011

there's no money for the beltway bandits if the DoD and VA go open source. Or is there?

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 uniongal Ohio

I'm shocked, just shocked! Wisconsin lawmakers are pushing the federal government to use a sole source vendor over community based organizing (open source is community organizing at its best)? Open Source means that everyone can contribute. And when everyone gets a chance to contribute, they'll also get a chance to make money off it, or gain recognition for their work, or meet new coders at coding sprints, etc... There's more to be gained from scaling, extending and developing health records technology in a modular way than there is in purchasing a solution and hoping that 20 years from now, that same company can do the work and keep up with the need. More can be gained from the community than from a single source.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group