VA tech budget request rises

In a year of great belt-tightening, the Department of Veterans Affairs managed to get a slight increase — $100 million — in the president's request for its information technology spending.

President Bush's budget proposal called for $1.6 billion in fiscal 2005, up from $1.5 billion in fiscal 2004, for IT spending at the agency that provides health care and other benefits for veterans.

There were few significant increases in the VA's programs to operate a network of more than 160 hospitals nationwide.

The administration's 2005 budget proposal calls for a $10 million increase, from $65.5 million to $75.5 million, for better data management and automated, consolidated financial statements in compliance with the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act.

The administration seeks an increase from $353.6 million to $390.6 million for the platform and technical infrastructure on which the Veterans Health Administration runs its software applications. And officials want about $15 million — the same as in the fiscal 2004 budget — for the VA's enterprise architecture plan.

The budget also calls for a slight decrease — from fiscal 2004's $18.6 million to $16 million — for IT spending on the Patient Financial Services System.

And officials are seeking a slight increase — from $12 million in fiscal 2004 to $13.2 million in fiscal 2005 — for the VA's financial management system for all administrative benefits and accounting.

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