Tester, Moran, Blackburn Bringing 21st Century Care and Benefits to Veterans with Information Technology Oversight Bill

Senators introduce bipartisan legislation to increase transparency and accountability over critical IT projects at VA

(U.S. Senate) – In a push to bring 21st century care and benefits to veterans across the country, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) are unveiling bipartisan legislation to improve information technology (IT) systems and management at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“When veterans aren’t getting their earned benefits as a result of poor planning or IT system failures at VA, we’ve got to hold the Department accountable,” said Tester. “This is especially critical as more folks seek care and services from VA as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Our bipartisan bill will increase transparency and provide VA with the right tools to deliver 21st century technology systems that work for all veterans.”

“Outdated IT systems inhibit the VA from delivering timely services to our veterans and put other sensitive information at risk,” said Moran. “This legislation would help bring the department’s technology into the 21st-century by requiring the VA to institute reforms to its IT systems to ensure our veterans are receiving the care and services they deserve.”

“We must bring our veterans’ care into the 21st century,” said Blackburn. “Outdated technology and government bureaucracy has resulted in extreme inefficiencies and inadequate care at the VA. I am pleased to join my Senate colleagues in pushing for the VA to improve its management of information technology projects and investments.”

IT systems at VA play an integral role in delivering benefits and medical services to veterans nationwide. However, failed or delayed IT projects over the years have hampered the delivery of these resources. As a result, VA’s IT program has remained on the GAO’s High-Risk List since 2015 and continues to receive low compliance scores in several areas of the annual Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act scorecard.

The Senators’ Department of Veterans Affairs IT Reform Act would increase transparency and accountability through Congressional oversight into proposed and current IT programs, and require VA to:

  • Provide Congress essential planning, cost and schedule reports on IT projects before they start;
  • Report to Congress when high-profile, high-cost IT projects miss critical deadlines and milestones; and
  • Improve IT budgeting processes by providing Congress a yearly list of unfunded IT projects, plans for eliminating old IT systems to save taxpayer funds, and estimating one, five, and 10-year IT budget needs so Congress can plan for future resource requirements.

Full text of the Senators’ bill can be found HERE.