Year 2000 Computing Challenge:

Update on the Readiness of the Department of Veterans Affairs

T-AIMD-00-39: Published: Oct 28, 1999. Publicly Released: Oct 28, 1999.

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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 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 veterans' benefits and health care services, the compliance status of biomedical equipment used in patient care, and the year 2000 readiness of the pharmaceutical and medical-surgical manufacturers on which VA relies; and (2) Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) year 2000 efforts to address biomedical equipment and pharmaceutical products.

GAO noted that: (1) VA continues to make progress in addressing the year 2000 problem; (2) it has established a moratorium on software changes and has developed a Day One plan to minimize risks associated with the rollover period; (3) however, some critical tasks remain to be completed; (4) for example, only about 10 percent of the Veterans Benefits Administration's 58 regional offices have tested their business continuity and contingency plans; (5) inaccuracies in monthly reports submitted by the Veterans Health Administration's (VHA) medical facilities make it difficult to determine their progress in renovating facility systems, telecommunications systems, commercial-off-the-shelf software, computer platforms, and medical devices; (6) further, VHA has not implemented GAO's prior recommendation to review the test results for biomedical equipment used in critical care/life support environments; (7) it is crucial that VA address these issues if the department is to continue to reliably deliver benefits and other health care services through the turn of the century; (8) FDA, for its part, had made progress in making compliance information on biomedical equipment available to users through its Federal Year 2000 Biomedical Equipment Clearinghouse; (9) it is also conducting surveys to determine the year 2000 readiness of pharmaceutical, biological, and consumable medical products manufacturers; (10) FDA has also recently addressed GAO's concern about the lack of independent verification and validation of critical care/life support biomedical equipment certified compliant by manufacturers; (11) specifically, it has reviewed a sample of these manufacturers' year 2000 activities, including risk management, test planning and procedures, implementation, and contingency planning; and (12) in the limited time remaining, FDA still needs to issue its final report to the Department of Health and Human Services summarizing the results of its review of manufacturers' year 2000 activities and make these results available to the public.

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