GAO Prods VA on IT System Issues, Data Center Closures

Military Data Center

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) wrote to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie on March 28 to update the agency on the implementation status of GAO’s prior IT management recommendations for the VA, and prodded VA to take action on benefits management system issues and data center optimization goals.

To improve the VA’s efforts to develop and implement the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS), GAO recommended that the agency’s Under Secretary for Benefits and the CIO develop a plan that includes a schedule to determine when the Veterans Benefits Administration plans to complete the development and implementation of the VBMS – including capabilities to fully support disability claims, pension claims, and appeals processing, and estimate cost for completion of the VBMS system.

The VA has already provided the GAO with a schedule for expected completion dates of implementing claims and appeals processing, but as a follow-up, the VA should provide a schedule of the activities needed to achieve those completion dates, as well as estimate the cost to develop and implement the VBMS fully, GAO said.

The GAO also recommended that the VA Secretary take action to improve data center optimization areas that failed to meet the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) established targets. GAO said VA is still lacking progress on two of nine metrics needed to implement optimization.

“It is important that VA accurately report data center optimization progress to OMB and improve departmental progress against meeting these metrics to ensure that OMB and Congress have the ability to oversee VA’s progress against key data center optimization goals,” the GAO writes.

Lastly, the GAO recommended that the VA should ensure the role and responsibility of the Interagency Program Office and that the VA should still document the roles and responsibilities with respect to the VA’s new electronic health record system acquisition.

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