(Helena, Mont.) – Ranking Member Jon Tester today laid out the challenges and opportunities for the recently-sworn in Assistant VA Secretary for Information and Technology James Gfrerer.
In a letter to Gfrerer, Tester addressed his chief concerns for the VA’s Office of Information and Technology, which Tester describes as being “under severe, well-deserved, scrutiny in recent years.”
“There is no doubt that insufficient resources, a chronic lack of transparency, and an inability to effectively prioritize countless competing objectives have led to serious questions about the VA’s ability to meet the standard of technology necessary to serve our nation’s veterans,” Tester wrote. “Now that you have taken the IT reigns at the VA, I would like to know more about your priorities. To that end, I respectfully request that you provide a comprehensive and prioritized list of VA IT projects.”
Tester cites recent cuts to the VA’s Information and Technology (IT) budget despite new IT infrastructure demands and current system shortcomings. He continues with concerns about the Office’s recent failure to properly implement Tester’s bipartisan Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, or “Forever G.I. Bill,” which delayed monthly housing stipends for student veterans across the nation.
In addition, Tester sets a high bar for the VA’s implementation of the new Electronic Health Record system, which will require a decade-long rollout and strict management of facilities transitioning to a new IT system.