DOD Should Restructure the March Air Force Base Test of Veterans Administration-Developed Software

IMTEC-85-14: Published: Sep 11, 1985. Publicly Released: Sep 11, 1985.

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GAO reported on its review of the Tri-Service Medical Information System Program (TRIMIS) established by the Department of Defense (DOD) to consolidate Army, Navy, and Air Force efforts in developing computer systems for their hospitals and clinics. GAO specifically addressed the DOD test of the Veterans Administration's (VA) software at March Air Force Base (AFB), California.

GAO found that the Composite Health Care System (CHCS) was the most costly and complex of four health care computer systems that DOD planned to acquire. VA had already established the Decentralized Hospital Computer Program to support its hospitals and other facilities in the same functions as those in CHCS, although CHCS would provide features not currently available with VA software. In October 1984, Congress, concerned about the substantial sums required for the CHCS procurement, questioned the validity of the VA software evaluation initiated by DOD and directed DOD to proceed with the testing of VA software at March AFB to determine its feasibility and cost-effectiveness. GAO found that the test's proposed scope was too narrow to provide the necessary information, since DOD was not planning to test all the available software modules in the VA system. DOD was reluctant to expand the test, claiming that it had satisfied congressional concerns that VA software be fairly evaluated by including in the CHCS procurement process a requirement that one of the initial vendors adapt VA software to meet CHCS specifications. GAO disagreed, concerned that the vendor would be required to modify VA software to meet CHCS specifications, adding cost and complexity to the resulting system. GAO found that an adapted VA system could become the basis for obtaining an alternative health-care computer system if the CHCS procurement should exceed approved funding levels or face long delays.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress mandated the recommended expanded test which DOD is undertaking. DOD has planned final contractor evaluation of the expanded VA software test for November 1987.

    Recommendation: DOD should expand the March AFB test to include adapting all available VA software modules at their current functional levels.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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