Senate gives VA full IT budget; House offers less

House and Senate lawmakers are moving closer to agreement on a final number for the fiscal 2012 IT budget for the Veterans Affairs Department, but they are not there yet.

House lawmakers passed the Military Construction/VA spending bill June 14. It would trim VA's IT budget for fiscal 2012 by 4 percent — to $3.03 billion.

But the Senate appears poised to replace some of that funding. The Senate Appropriations Committee has allocated the full $3.16 billion that the department requested for its IT efforts. The committee approved the bill June 30, but the full Senate has not yet voted on it.

Related stories:

NASA, DOJ take hits in fiscal 2012 budget package

VA CIO says department has $700M carryover money for IT

Assuming the Senate approves the committee’s bill, the next step would be negotiation between members of both chambers on whether to maintain the $140 million cutback promoted by the House, adopt the Senate committee’s version or find some middle ground for the official allocation for fiscal 2012.

The House bill also stipulates that VA officials must submit a detailed plan to Congress that complies with all planning and investment control requirements, the department's enterprise architecture, all acquisition rules, and life cycle management principles. In addition, the bill orders VA to submit detailed information on any reprogramming of funds.

The Senate committee said its budget bill would fully fund VA's request to support development of electronic health records, paperless claims systems, and seamless integration of medical and service records with the Defense Department.

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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