WASHINGTON, D.C. – Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) issued the following statement today on recently announced plans by the Department of Veterans Affairs to overhaul its information technology project management:
“IT improvements have the potential to dramatically improve the care and benefits veterans receive, but too often, IT failings have actually hurt VA’s reputation and service quality,” said Chairman Akaka. “I commend VA’s leadership for acknowledging existing shortcomings and setting higher standards for the Department. This push for reform could bring us closer to the systemic transformation Secretary Shinseki and President Obama promised for veterans and their families.”
An ongoing internal review of 282 IT programs has found many projects over a year behind schedule or more than 50 percent over initial cost estimates. Under VA’s new Project Management Accountability System (PMAS) standards, all new IT programs will have benchmarks for success at least every six months. Projects that continually miss their benchmarks will be halted and reviewed. Over the next year, the Department plans to bring all existing IT programs under the PMAS standards. VA leadership anticipates that these new standards will end the pattern of repeated project shortcomings that have plagued IT programs in the past.
On April 15th this year, Chairman Akaka highlighted the need for Secretary Shinseki to fix the IT management problems inherited from previous administrations. VA’s internal review and new policy were spurred in part by publicized failures within the Replacement Scheduling Application which was intended to manage appointments within the VA health care system. This failure was finally acknowledged after 8 years and more than $120 million in spending.
For more on the change to PMAS, click here for VA’s announcement.
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June 22, 2009