Officials labor over VA stovepipes

For the second week in a row, two dozen information technology officials are huddled in Potomac, Md., trying to figure out how to streamline the aging and complicated computer systems at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Facing a mid-August deadline, the department's IT experts are gathering Thursday, today and Saturday at the U.S. Postal Service's training center, working overtime to develop an enterprise architecture plan that would eliminate the VA's notorious stovepipes.

"We know it's a large problem, and we're not going to be able to change everything overnight," Guy McMichael, acting chief information officer at the VA, said at a forum Wednesday sponsored by the Industry Advisory Council.

VA Secretary Anthony Principi has ordered IT officials to come up with a plan by Aug. 14 that would simplify the VA's systems and eliminate the multiple steps that veterans are forced to take when they transfer from one system to another.

Although the VA has made some progress in standardizing operations, it still has a long way to go, according to McMichael and others. Veterans must fill out forms every time they interact with various parts of the system because there is no centralized way to keep track of the data. When veterans move from one place to another, they must fill out forms again and again. And there is no way to tap into a databank at a previous location.

McMichael said no one is putting a price tag on how much the modernization plan would cost, but he said, "We could all use more money.... We have to have a clear sense of how we are going to spend the money."

Featured

  • People
    Federal CIO Suzette Kent

    Federal CIO Kent to exit in July

    During her tenure, Suzette Kent pushed on policies including Trusted Internet Connection, identity management and the creation of the Chief Data Officers Council

  • Defense
    Essye Miller, Director at Defense Information Management, speaks during the Breaking the Gender Barrier panel at the Air Space, Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 19, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chad Trujillo)

    Essye Miller: The exit interview

    Essye Miller, DOD's outgoing principal deputy CIO, talks about COVID, the state of the tech workforce and the hard conversations DOD has to have to prepare personnel for the future.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.