VA pulls plug on failing IT projects, saves $54M

12 underperforming projects terminated; 32 get second chance

The Veterans Affairs Department has terminated its Enrollment System Redesign, Pharmacy Reengineering and 10 other failing information technology projects for a projected savings of $54 million this fiscal year, officials announced today.

The enrollment systems project was budgeted at $24 million, and the pharmacy project at $23 million, for fiscal 2010.

Other canceled VA IT projects included the Barcode Expansion, Delivery Service, Rights Management Server and VA-Defense Department Laboratory Data Sharing and Interoperability terminology support.

The 12 canceled IT projects were among 44 IT projects halted by VA officials in July 2009. Chief Information Officer Roger Baker today released the list of the 12 terminated projects and 32 restarted projects.

To improve management of ongoing projects, Baker said that as of Feb. 15 every IT project in the department, and about 250 IT projects overall, are being managed through the Program Management Accountability System introduced in July. The system requires IT projects to deliver new functionality within six months and to meet project milestones. The VA also is using an online IT dashboard to identify and track troubled projects.

“Today, under the leadership of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and CIO Roger Baker, we are taking major steps in relentless management across the IT portfolio,” Vivek Kundra, White House chief technology officer, said in a conference call today.

Baker said that while the goal was to put IT projects on the accountability system as soon as possible, it took several months to identify and terminate contracts associated with the canceled projects. “We have been ready to put everything under PMAS. We needed a repeatable process,” Baker said in the conference call. “Every VA IT project now has a deliverable in the next six months.”

Among other terminated VA IT projects are Chemistry and Hematology automation, Organization Service, Modification to Case Management, Radiology Standardization and what the department calls the Scheduling Replacement program. VA officials did not immediately respond to an inquiry of whether that refers to the Replacement Scheduling Application Development Program or to an earlier scheduling replacement system project.

The National Teleradiology Program was listed as a restarted program; however, one of its components was canceled.

About the Author

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

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