VA Information Technology:

Progress Made, but Continued Management Attention Is Key to Achieving Results

GAO-02-369T: Published: Mar 13, 2002. Publicly Released: Mar 13, 2002.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has laid the groundwork for an integrated, departmentwide enterprise architecture--a blueprint for evolving its information systems and developing new systems to optimize their mission value. Crucial executive support is in place and the department has a strategy to define products and processes critical to its development. VA is now recruiting a chief architect to help implement and manage the enterprise architecture. VA has tried to strengthen its information security management program by mandating information security performance standards and greater management accountability for senior executives. It has also updated security policies, procedures, and standards to implement critical security measures. Despite these efforts, VA continues to report pervasive and serious information security weaknesses. The Veterans Benefits Administration is still far from launching a modernized system to replace its aging benefits delivery network. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has made good progress in expanding the use of its decision support system (DSS) for clinical and financial decision making. The use of DSS data for the fiscal year 2002 resource allocation process, and a requirement that veteran integrated service network directors better account for their use of this system, have raised awareness of, and promoted its use, among VHA facilities. VA has made little progress in sharing data with the Department of Defense and Indian Health Service as part of a computer-based patient record initiative. Implementation strategies continue to be revised, the scope of the initiative has been substantially narrowed, and it continues to operate without clear lines of authority or comprehensive, coordinated plans.

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