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

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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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Reader comments

Mon, Dec 19, 2016

12/14/16 commenter: How on earth is VI Tier2 a waste?HDDs are cheap now and Tier 2 capacity is massive. Additionally, each site is mirrored at least two other locations, automatically. Better than tapes any day.

Sat, Dec 17, 2016

I can assure you, nothing has changed, nothing will change. Every rule that has been put in place is willfully being ignored. There are no loopholes needed when leadership is willing to ignore established rules. Try again IG, but so far your reports haven't altered the bad behavior.

Fri, Dec 16, 2016

Great point by Ms Council regarding CDM. VA will have visibility to every IP addressable end point on their network by the end of the year. Too bad Energy and other agencies are unwilling to take advantage of DHS' generosity to achieve similar results

Wed, Dec 14, 2016

The Directive referenced in this story is something that has been needed for a very long time. Good to see it done, now it just needs to be enforced. The only problem I see is what looks like a loophole on page 9, first paragraph, whereby it states that the responsibility for all of the rules and regulations rests "with the buyer" if the proper CIO approvals are not obtained. This interpretation may be out of context but I know a lot of "VHA, VBA Shadow IT Staff" will see that as a green light to continue to do what they're doing, and accept the risk themselves. Regardless, this is good progress.

Wed, Dec 14, 2016

This is only the tip of the iceberg there are plenty of examples of IT waste in Millions of dollars over the past couple of years. SCCM, Active Directory, Exchange and the Gold Medal Winner VistA Imaging Tier 2 Archive. Tapeless Backup

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