Year 2000 Computing Crisis:

Key Actions Remain to Ensure Delivery of Veterans Benefits and Health Services

T-AIMD-99-152: Published: Apr 20, 1999. Publicly Released: Apr 20, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) efforts to address the year 2000 computer problem, focusing on the: (1) year 2000 readiness of automated systems that support the delivery of benefits and health care services; (2) compliance status of biomedical equipment used in patient care; and (3) year 2000 readiness of the pharmaceutical and medical-surgical manufacturers upon which VA relies. In discussing biomedical equipment and pharmaceutical manufacturers, GAO provided information on the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) year 2000 efforts.

GAO noted that: (1) VA continues to make progress in its year 2000 readiness; (2) however, key actions remain to be performed; (3) for example, the Veterans Benefits Administration and Veterans Health Administration (VHA) have not yet completed testing of their mission-critical systems to ensure that these systems can reliably accept future dates--such as January 1, 2000; (4) also, VHA has not completed year 2000 assessments of its facility systems, which can be essential to ensuring continuing health care; (5) in addition, neither VA nor FDA had implemented GAO's prior recommendation to review the test results for biomedical equipment used in critical care/life support environments; (6) further, VHA's pharmaceutical operations are at risk because the automated systems supporting its consolidated mail outpatient pharmacies are not year 2000 compliant; (7) VHA does not know if its medical facilities will have a sufficient supply of pharmaceutical and medical-surgical products on hand because it does not have complete information on the year 2000 readiness of these manufacturers; and (8) it is critical that these concerns be addressed if VA is to continue reliably delivering benefits and health care.

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