Committee calls for VA tech cut

The House Veterans Affairs Committee is recommending a $400 million cut in the proposed information technology budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal 2006.

Although the president requested $2.1 billion for tech programs throughout the veterans agency, “VA management of IT programs has been ineffective as a result of their current organization,” according to a letter sent by the panel to the House Budget Committee, which has jurisdiction over the VA budget.

The committee pointed to the failure of a $372 million financial management project called CoreFLS in Bay Pines, Fla., as an example of the VA’s technology problems.

At a recent Congressional hearing, Robert McFarland, VA chief information officer, said that a review of VA’s IT programs by PricewaterhouseCoopers should be completed this spring. The Veterans Affairs Committee asked the Budget Committee to make the $400 million cut until the review is completed.

In addition, Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, told the Budget Committee that he is considering legislation that would give the VA chief information officer direct line and budget authority over tech spending and associated personnel within the entire department.

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