Year 2000 Computing Crisis:

Action Needed to Ensure Continued Delivery of Veterans Benefits and Health Care Services

T-AIMD-99-136: Published: Apr 15, 1999. Publicly Released: Apr 15, 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) year 2000 readiness, focusing on: (1) VA's ability to deliver benefits and health care services through the turn of the century; and (2) the readiness of automated systems that support such delivery, the compliance status of biomedical equipment used in patient care, and the year 2000 readiness of the pharmaceutical and medical-surgical manufacturers upon which VA relies.

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 assessments for its facility systems, which can be essential to ensuring continuing health care; (5) in addition, neither VA nor the Food and Drug Administration have 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 supplies 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 to reliably deliver benefits and health care.

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