VA to consolidate IT staff under CIO

The Veterans Affairs Department later this month will begin moving all IT staff that have not already been placed under the authority of the department CIO. Permanent assignment under CIO Robert Howard will take effect by April.

VA deputy CIO for enterprise development Paul Tibbits is now responsible for VA IT development under the new centralized IT reorganization.

“Although the single IT leadership authority is effective now, we will not be fully transitioned to the revised structure for the Office of Information and Technology until April 2007,” a VA spokeswoman said today.

VA will be fully transitioned and operational under the reorganized VA IT management system by July 2008.

Howard said last week that VA had decided to switch its plans and centralize development and all management of its IT environment under the department CIO.

VA Secretary Jim Nicholson recently signed documents to bring application and enterprise development under the department CIO, Howard said.

VA had originally planned to keep applications development with its health, benefits and burial administrations, and place management of its IT maintenance and operations under the department CIO in a federated organization.

VA has been gradually moving from a decentralized system to a more centralized one. But the incremental transition process revealed difficult issues, and VA has to make hard decisions around legacy systems, standards and interoperability, according to a draft target reorganization document from IBM Corp., which is assisting the department with the transition.

“The need to maintain the pace of change at the Department of Veterans Affairs and to introduce and maintain enterprise policies, processes and standards points to a need for a Single IT Leadership Authority,” IBM said in its report.

The House last year passed legislation spearheaded by House Veterans Affairs Chairman Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) to centralize IT authority under the department CIO. The Senate has not acted on the bill. Moving applications and enterprise development under the VA CIO will mean full IT budget and management centralization.

Gartner Consulting of McLean, Va., which VA hired to assess the department’s IT management environment, last year recommended that VA centralize all management of IT budgeting under the department CIO.

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