Ex-military official to lead VA reorganization

The Department of Veterans Affairs has hired a heavy hitter to help reorganize and centralize its information technology operation nationwide and put control of the IT budget in the hands of the VA’s chief information officer.

Joseph Shaffer, a retired Army colonel, has worked in reorganizing and realigning operations in the Defense Department and overseas.

Most recently, he worked for the Cubic Defense Group and spent five years reorganizing and restructuring the military and defense IT programs for Slovakia, a Central European country south of Poland.

Shaffer will be working for Robert McFarland, the VA’s CIO, who is spearheading the plans to consolidate IT spending for one of the largest civilian agencies in government. The VA has at least 162 hospitals and 850 clinics nationwide.

“Change is difficult for most organizations, especially significant change,” McFarland said. “We’re not going to change anything overnight. There are no light switches.”

Meanwhile, Craig Luigart, the deputy CIO of the Veterans Health Administration, sent a memo to staff stating that the consolidation would be phased in.

“This is a new decision, and there are many details that have not yet been worked out,” Luigart wrote in his memo.

“What we do know is that there will be a coordinated planning effort to bring about all the changes necessary for this reorganization to be successful,” he added.

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