Veterans Affairs:

Status of Effort to Consolidate VA Data Centers

AIMD-98-94: Published: Apr 22, 1998. Publicly Released: Apr 28, 1998.

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Joel C. Willemssen
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Office of Public Affairs
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) plans to consolidate mainframe computer operations at the Veterans Benefits Administration's (VBA) benefits delivery centers in Hines, Illinois, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at VA's Austin, Texas, Automation Center (AAC).

GAO noted that: (1) in response to a 1995 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) bulletin urging federal departments to consolidate their data centers as a way of reducing operating costs, VA hired a contractor to study various alternatives; (2) the contractor concluded, in June 1996, that consolidation of VBA's Hines and Philadelphia data centers at VA's AAC was the most cost-effective solution and would bring VA into compliance with OMB's criteria for cost-effective data center size; (3) however, in March 1997 VA decided to defer consolidation to ensure that available resources and attention could be focused on solving VBA's year 2000 computing problem; (4) OMB subsequently urged VA to address consolidation concurrently with the year 2000 issue; (5) the department is now planning the data center consolidation; (6) VA and VBA have recently formed a team to develop plans to address factors that were not fully considered in the original 1996 analysis, such as how displaced personnel at Hines and Philadelphia will be accommodated; and (7) VA and VBA have stated that they intend to proceed in 2000 with data center consolidation, once VBA has completed its efforts to address the year 2000 issue.

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