On Wednesday, March 16th the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Technology held a hearing on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) modernization efforts. Testimony came from the department’s Ms. LaVerne Council, Assistant Secretary for Information Technology & Chief Information Officer.
In her opening statement, Ms. Council spoke on the ongoing IT modernization efforts. She noted the VA will jointly certify interoperability with the Department of Defense (DoD) by next month, ahead of schedule. She highlighted how the Office of Information and Technology is transitioning into a world class organization, one that is “centered on transparency, accountability, innovation, and teamwork.” Additionally, Ms. Council spoke on the launch of an Enterprise Program Management Office what she referred to as VA's IT "control tower” guiding current and future modernization efforts.
During questioning from members of the subcommittee, Ms. Council noted that the VA may follow the DoD strategy of purchasing off the shelf commercial EHR software, suggesting the VA may take an alternative course to VistA modernization.
When asked if there as anything Congress could help with, Ms. Council noted that the VA competes with private companies for skilled workers and that the federal hiring process simply takes far too long, and could potentially discourage highly skilled workers from coming over to the VA.