Blackburn Resigns as VA Acting CIO

(Photo: Associated Press)

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been on a modernization tear of late, and has touted how improving veteran care is rooted in new technology initiatives. Continuing that commitment could be more difficult now that its acting CIO is on the way out.

Scott Blackburn, appointed acting CIO in September 2017, has resigned from his post at VA. He’ll now enjoy a few months’ vacation as the shakeups at VA continue.

Blackburn’s departure comes two weeks after Secretary David Shulkin was shown the door. At a pivotal juncture in the agency’s modernization push, and with the estimated $10 billion Electronic Health Records deal in limbo, the revolving door of leadership doesn’t seem to have an immediate end in sight.

The senate will vote this week on Paul Lawrence, nominated to the post of Under Secretary for the Veterans Benefits Administration. The confirmation hearing for Ronny Jackson, tapped by the White House as the new VA Secretary, could occur as early as next week, but has not been scheduled.

VA has yet to name a replacement for Blackburn, and many of its top brass remain as acting officials rather than fully instated.

In his resignation statement, Blackburn was proud to again acknowledge how veteran trust has increased more than 20 percentage points in just over two years.

“My effort has always been about better caring for veterans regardless of presidential administration,” Blackburn said. “I will remain both VA’s biggest cheerleader and critic from afar.”

VA’s top leadership reiterated the agency’s customer service obligations recently. Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie said that employees must drive the charge of customer care from the bottom up.

VA could do well to cement its organizational structure from the top down first.

  1. Anonymous | - Reply
    The VA is broken beyond repair, from the ineffective top all the way down to union members much more interested in their benefits and annual bonus. After many years of neglect and reorganizations it's high time to privatise this politicized big government bureaucracy. Medicare or Tricare, no new million dollar software system is necessary. Just set up some specialty clinics in civilian hospitals across the country for traumatic war wounds and PTSD. But perhaps specialty clinics are not even needed given today's injuries now seen in so many inner city hospitals. Support and care for our veterans - just not in the badly broken VA.
  2. Anonymous | - Reply
    While nobody will miss Blackburn and his totally see through fake enthusiasm, the VHA idiot they've put into the job is going to be the death of IT. Not that IT hasn't been totally jacked-up since they ripped us away from VHA, this just means we on our way back to the days of idiot facility directors doing all the dumb things desperate executives do to cover their rear. Bit looking at the bright side, maybe this finally be the way IT rids ourselves of our useless SESs that aren't smart enough to boil water. Lord knows the poor people in the field will be happy to see every IT SES fired. The world and the veterans we serve will be better served if the current SESs are replaced with people who grew up the the VA and know more than silly things like ITIL.
  3. Anonymous | - Reply
    At least Blackburn got out before being in VA IT killed his soul. Working in IT in VA in 2018 is like being in a prison camp. I'm certain the next best and worst agency to work for will prove that the people who are leading the VA's IT people today are running it into the ground and trying to run it into the ground to it can be outsourced. We all know that's what strategic sourcing means, the SESs aren't fooling anybody. It's time to begin a campaign of resistance.

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