VA ranking

As the Department of Veterans Affairs' Year 2000 project manager, I am writing to correct serious factual errors contained in an article by L. Scott Tillett on the Office of Management and Budget's Year 2000 draft report [FCW, June 8, Page 1] and in Rep. Steve Horn's report card [FCW, June 8, Page 10].

OMB's final report again placed the VA in Tier III, the highest ranking, not Tier II, as the article incorrectly reports. The VA is not slowing its efforts to fix Year 2000 problems. We plan to renovate and to put into production 100 percent of the VA's mission-critical and non-mission-critical systems by March 31, 1999. We are on track to meet that date.

I am concerned that the FCW articles create the impression that the VA has slowed its efforts and is behind other federal agencies. This simply is untrue. As stated in the final OMB report, the VA's percentage for mission-critical systems is 83 percent renovated, 63 percent validated and 49 percent implemented into production. The VA is on schedule to have all systems implemented by March 1999.

The VA is not behind the curve in resolving its Year 2000 problems. The Va will ensure that its information systems supporting both benefits delivery and medical care will provide uninterrupted service in the Year 2000 and beyond.

Thank you for the opportunity to correct the record.

Ernesto CastroVA Year 2000 project manager

Editors' note: FCW reported on the draft report. Some agencies shifted position between the draft and the final report. We are happy to clarify the final ranking.


Leasing problem

Regarding your June 8 article on leasing to the government, I think there may be another reason why leasing is not catching on as expected.

We thought leasing would be a good option for laptops because we wanted to replace some old ones we bought long ago that were still working but were obsolete for what we need to do. After finding four companies willing to lease laptops to the government, we found if we wanted the latest technology, leasing is simply not a good deal.

All the vendors quoted prices for a minimum three-year lease. At the end of this lease, we would have basically purchased the laptop, but...we'd have to give it back. If we settle for a laptop whose technology probably wouldn't help us for more than a year to a year and a half, the pricing is a little better; however, they all require a three-year lease. So the laptop probably would be too slow or useless halfway through the lease. With options like these, we were left with no real choice but to abandon our hopes of leasing laptops. We were sorely disappointed this did not work out.

If our experience is indicative, vendors should start looking at their practices before complaining that leasing to the government is not working as expected.

Gary BellNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration, R&DTransportation Department


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