VA's CIO is 'comfortable' with flat IT budget

IT funding proposed to stay at $3.3 billion in fiscal 2011

The Veterans Affairs Department’s information technology budget may be flat in fiscal 2011, but it is more than adequate for fulfilling the VA’s IT priorities, Roger Baker, the VA's chief information officer, told a House budget hearing today.

The VA is requesting $3.3 billion for its Office of IT in fiscal 2011, the same as the 2010 enacted budget.

“The IT budget request, while level, is fully supportive of our goals,” Baker told the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. “In effect, by implementing approaches to maximize the value of every dollar, we are giving ourselves an increase.”


Related story:

VA freezes IT budget for 2011


"I feel comfortable with a flatline budget," Baker said. "I believe we have to have some fiscal discipline in government. My organization is a good place to start.”

The VA's IT organization also benefits from an 18 percent increase approved by Congress for fiscal 2010 and some carryovers and cost savings, he added.

For example, by freezing 45 underperforming IT projects in July 2009, Baker said the department has realized $54 million in cost avoidance in the current fiscal year. Thirty-two of the projects have restarted, and 12 have been terminated, he added.

In addition, effective Feb. 15, all IT projects at the VA are being managed under the Program Management Accountability System started in July 2009. The system will help the VA meet project milestones on schedule and in budget, Baker said.

Baker said he is applying five key management approaches to improve IT at the VA, including the program management system, prioritizing IT operations, transparent metrics for measuring progress, next-generation IT security and superior customer service.

The approaches will be fully implemented this year, he said, and once they are deployed, “we will be able to track every project and every dollar and make sure each project is on schedule, track metrics, increase visibility into security, have better privacy for veterans, and work more closely with the administration as our customers.”

One of the key IT projects is transforming the veterans benefits system into a paperless system. “That is where the savings will come in,” Baker said. “I expect to spend fewer dollars and get better results."

Meanwhile, the VA is slowing deployment of its Financial and Logistics Integrated Technology Enterprise program. “We are being very careful on FLITE; we have slowed it down substantially. We want to make sure we can deliver on the asset management before we spend on the financial system,” Baker said.

.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Thu, Feb 25, 2010

THey cut projects but what do they do with the staff? Have they cut staff from those projects or are they just sitting around waiting for something to do?

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group