VA secretary puts hold on new IT

Anthony Principi, the new secretary of Veterans Affairs, has put a hold on new information technology projects pending the appointment of a permanent chief information officer.

While the operational policy does not affect ongoing projects, it is likely to delay any projects that are on the drawing boards or requests for new proposals.

"The secretary has said in the past that when it comes to new initiatives, he wants to wait until we have a technology strategy in place," said Steve Westerfeld, Department of Veterans Affairs spokesman.

In addition, Principi supports the idea of having the agency's capital investment board review projects of $10 million or more, Westerfeld said.

The agency has been without a permanent CIO since Harold Gracey moved to the private sector last year. Temporary appointees have held the job since then.

During his Senate confirmation testimony in January, Principi said he is dedicated to using technology to help solve the VA's problems. But he criticized the way IT has been handled by the agency and indicated he would take it in a new direction.

"VA has absorbed billions of dollars allocated to improving its ability to collect, process and communicate data. Frankly, I do not see improvements proportional to the resources consumed," he said.

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