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In carrying out VA's mission of serving the nation's veterans and their dependents, the agency relies extensively on information technology (IT), for which it is requesting about $2.1 billion in fiscal year 2006. VA's vision is to integrate its IT resources and streamline interactions with customers, so that it can provide services and information to veterans more quickly and effectively. Fully exploiting the potential of IT to improve performance is a challenging goal for VA, as it is throughout government. The Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 addressed this challenge by, among other things, establishing the position of chief information officer (CIO) to serve as the focal point for information and technology management within departments and agencies. The Committee requested that GAO discuss the role of CIOs in the federal government, as well as provide a historical perspective on the roles and responsibilities of VA's CIO. In developing this testimony, GAO relied on its previous work at VA as well as on the CIO role across government, including a 2004 review of CIOs at major departments and agencies.

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