WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, held an oversight hearing today on health information technology collaboration between the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 mandates that DOD and VA develop interoperable or "seamless" electronic health systems by September 2009. Today's hearing reviewed the Departments' progress towards that deadline.
"I am pleased by reports of progress towards ‘seamless transition,' but progress is not enough," said Akaka. "Interoperability is in the best interest of servicemembers, veterans, and the government. I hope that within a year of today's hearing, we will be commending the departments for meeting their deadline for a seamless electronic health system."
While VA and DOD have made progress in developing their information technology, they continue to fall short of the goal of DOD/VA interoperability. VA Under Secretary for Health Michael Kussman and DOD Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) S. Ward Casscells testified that their departments are working towards meeting the mandated September 2009 deadline. GAO's testimony outlined recent improvements to DOD/VA information sharing, while highlighting the need for further action.
Today's hearing was the last of ten oversight hearings held by the Veterans' Affairs Committee on cooperation and collaboration between the Departments of Defense and Veterans' Affairs since January 2007. Akaka closed by urging DOD and VA to prepare for the upcoming administrative transition, so that progress does not stall. "Progress towards seamless transition depends in part on another transition - from this President's administration to the next. I urge those leaving VA and DOD to leave behind a roadmap for success."
The full witness list can be viewed here: link
The Chairman's opening statement can be viewed here: link