Oversight

IG: VA wasted more than $7M in poorly-planned tech refresh

dollar signs 

Technology buyers at the Department of Veterans Affairs wasted more than $7 million in hardware and software licenses in an uncoordinated tech refresh, according to the agency's internal watchdog.

The finding grew out of a 2015 complaint alleging that the VA's Office of Information and Technology was paying for redundant Windows enterprise licenses. An inspector general investigation revealed that virtual desktop machines were replaced with individual desktops at VA's Consolidated Patient Account Centers. The desktops required individual Windows licenses, unlike the thin client interfaces they replaced.

The move was in keeping with an overall plan to ditch thin client across VA. However, officials told IG investigators that the tech refresh at CPAC did not take into account the overlapping licenses -- the individual PC license as well as the server-side license used by the virtual desktops.

In an IG report released Dec. 6, the agency watchdog documented just over $2.2 million in wasted spending on computers and about $5 million in wasted spending on licenses.

The VA agreed with the OIG recommendation that the veterans' agency do a better job of coordinating the acquisition of hardware, software and services to avoid redundant or wasteful spending.

VA CIO LaVerne Council indicated in her reply comments that the OI&T "clarified" its authority over IT resources in an August 2016 directive and that the agency's compliance with the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act is giving the CIO more authority over tech buys across the VA enterprise. She also noted that cybersecurity tools leveraged under the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program are giving OI&T personnel more visibility into software installation and utilization across VA networks.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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