Cragg: Defeat stovepipes through common data

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"Grim prognosis"

Stovepipes are a fact of life. Making data flow between them is what’s important, said Scott Cragg, chief architect of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“The stovepipes don’t need to go away,” Cragg said yesterday, speaking at a Washington, D.C., lunch sponsored by the Industry Advisory Council. The challenge for enterprise architects is getting the stovepipes to communicate, he said.

In the VA, the challenge is particularly difficult because the department has three major semi-autonomous components and must manage data compatibility with the Defense Department.

But during the past two weeks, the VA and DOD have been testing a common repository for demographic data as active-duty personnel become veterans. The effort will eliminate duplicative data collection efforts and consolidate many data feeds from the Pentagon into a single line, Cragg said.

On average, it takes about $5,000 to get and keep a veteran’s information onto VA rolls, Cragg added. Every dollar saved there frees another dollar to be spent on medical care.

“There’s no brilliance in this though,” Cragg added. “It’s just basic physics: Data drives everything we do.”

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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