VBA Verification

I must comment on an article and chart, prepared by Elana Varon, that appeared in the April 1 Federal Computer Week.

The chart appeared in an article titled "Fiscal '97 request hits the street," under the heading of "Major FY 1997 IT Spending Proposals," and cited the Department of Veterans Affairs' Veterans Benefits Administration's Modernization Program as having a proposed budget of $842 million. This figure is incorrect and misleading.

The true amount proposed for the 1997 budget for VBA's Office of Information Systems (formerly Office of Information Technology) is $95.1 million. Only $13 million of that total is requested to support our modernization program. I can only assume that Ms. Varon's use of the $842 million figure stemmed from a misreading of our budget figures.

The inaccurate budget figure is repeated in the text of the article, along with an incorrect quote attributed to Mr. George Vaveris.

Mr. Vaveris did not say that the requirements of Stage III would be met by "existing VA contracts." He, in fact, said "existing department resources."

Given VBA's concerns regarding oversight from the General Services Administration, Congress and veterans service organizations, you can certainly understand our desire to promote the accurate dissemination and publication of information.

R.J. Vogel

Undersecretary of Veterans Affairs for Benefits

Washington, D.C.

Editor's response: Mr. Vogel states correctly that the total VBA budget request for fiscal 1997 is $95.1 million. That is a decrease of $16 million from fiscal 1996, according to a budget document issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The document does not specify a budget for the VBA Modernization program. The incorrect figure was included in the story and accompanying chart due to a reporting error, and we regret any confusion it may have caused.


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