At Hearing, Tester Questions VA Assistant Secretary of Enterprise Integration Nominee on Electronic Health Record Modernization

Chairman also pressed Assistant Secretary of Veterans’ Employment and Training nominee tasked with supporting transitioning servicemembers at DOL

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(U.S. Senate) – Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester yesterday held a nomination hearing for important positions at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Labor (DOL).

During the hearing, Tester questioned Guy Kiyokawa on his qualifications to serve as Assistant Secretary of Enterprise Integration, a position tasked with integrating people, processes, technology and innovations across the Department—including VA’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) Modernization. 

“It’s no secret that the VA is in the midst of deploying a new Electronic Health Record system, and that this program has not rolled-out as smoothly as anyone has wanted,” said Tester. “Given your past history with the DOD [Department of Defense] and Electronic Health Records, what lessons would you bring to the VA that you learned from your time at the Defense Health Agency and your Army career when it comes to EHR work?”

“One of the key things is to have that true IT infrastructure backbone,” replied Kiyokawa. “One thing we learned early on when we were bringing those services together to have that single backbone—it has to be reliable…And lastly I would say, once we got it going, we developed something called the ‘Pay it Forward’ program, where we had actual providers who had deployed it at their site physically go to next site and sit down with their peers. And it was that peer-to-peer relationship that started to get the buy-in that’s so important to change management.”

Tester also pressed James Rodriguez—the Assistant Secretary of Veterans’ Employment and Training nominee responsible for preparing nearly 200,000 servicemembers, veterans and their families each year for transition to civilian careers through the Transition Assistance Program (TAP)—on his qualifications to improve DOL’s coordination with VA and DOD to support transitioning servicemembers.

Guy Kiyokawa, Nominee to be Assistant Secretary for Enterprise Integration at the Department of Veterans Affairs

Kiyokawa is the Deputy Director of the Defense Health Agency (DHA), a joint Combat Support Agency supporting Army, Navy, and Air Force medical services. Prior to his selection to the Senior Executive Service in 2015, Mr. Kiyokawa completed a 29-year career in the United States Army in multiple roles ranging from aeromedical evacuation pilot to health facility engineering to health care administration.  He culminated his career as the Chief of Staff of DHA and retired at the rank of Colonel in 2015.

James Rodriguez, Nominee to be Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment and Training

Rodriguez is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and serves as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy for the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS). He previously served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Office of Warrior Care Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2014 through 2017. Prior to holding government offices, Rodriguez worked in the private sector.

Tester’s Q&A is available HERE.