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Highlights

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), through its Veterans Health Administration (VHA), provides health care for more than 5 million veterans each year. In 2001, VHA began an initiative, HealtheVet, to modernize its current medical information system. GAO's objectives were to determine the status of the modernization, VA's overall plan for completing it, and how VA is providing oversight to ensure the success of the initiative. To conduct this review, GAO analyzed project documentation and interviewed officials responsible for the development and implementation of the new system.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Veterans Affairs To better ensure the success of HealtheVet, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Information Officer to develop a project management plan that encompasses all six blocks of HealtheVet.
Closed - Implemented
VA concurred with the recommendation and took actions to address the issues that we identified. For example, in August and September 2009, VA held meetings with stakeholders to develop a new integrated master plan and integrated master schedule for HealtheVet. Additionally, the department provided evidence that it intended to use its newly implemented Project Management Accountability System as the basis for developing a complete HealtheVet project plan. However, VA changed its strategic direction and discontinued HealtheVet in August 2010. Although the department canceled the HealtheVet program, we consider the above actions to be responsive to our recommendation that it develop a project management plan for HealtheVet.
Department of Veterans Affairs To better ensure the success of HealtheVet, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Information Officer to validate cost estimates for all six blocks of HealtheVet.
Closed - Implemented
VA concurred with our recommendation and, in May 2008, tasked the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) with conducting an independent validation of the 10-year life-cycle cost estimate for the HealtheVet suite of applications. In August 2009, VA provided briefing slides with the results of the independent validation, which showed that the SPAWAR cost estimate for HealtheVet was within 5 percent of the estimate developed by VA. Although VA changed its strategic direction and discontinued HealtheVet in August 2010, we consider the department's actions to be responsive to our recommendation.
Department of Veterans Affairs To better ensure the success of HealtheVet, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Information Officer to expedite efforts to permanently staff the position of the Director of the Program Management office and fill other critical leadership positions in the Office of Enterprise Development.
Closed - Implemented
VA concurred with the recommendation and filled the Assistant Deputy CIO for Program Management position in January 2009. However, in April 2010, we learned that this position was again vacant. In August 2011, VA provided information that this position (now called the Assistant Deputy CIO for Project Management) was filled in May 2011. Further, with regard to other critical positions, (1) the Assistant Deputy CIO of Software Development position was filled in October 2009, (2) the Assistant Deputy CIO for Software Engineering position was realigned to a non-SES product support role, and (3) the Deputy Director position for the Interagency Program Office was filled in January 2010. Although VA changed its strategic direction and discontinued HealtheVet in August 2010, we consider the department's actions to be responsive to our recommendation.
Department of Veterans Affairs To better ensure the success of HealtheVet, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Information Officer to develop a schedule for and conduct milestone reviews of the HealtheVet projects.
Closed - Implemented
VA concurred with the recommendation and took steps to begin addressing the issues that we identified. For example, in August 2009, milestone review schedules for HealtheVet had been established as part of VA's newly implemented Project Management Accountability System (PMAS) oversight initiative. Further, the department reported that it had implemented software to help manage the PMAS reviews and related artifacts. Although VA changed its strategic direction and discontinued HealtheVet in August 2010, we consider the steps taken to be responsive to our recommendation to develop a schedule for and conduct milestone reviews of the HealtheVet projects.
Department of Veterans Affairs To ensure proper oversight of HealtheVet, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Veterans Health Administration Under Secretary to finalize and implement the plan to establish the HealtheVet governance structure.
Closed - Implemented
VA concurred with the recommendation and took steps to address the issues that we identified. For example, in July 2009, VA approved a revised charter and governance plan for HealtheVet which reflected organizational changes to the department and its adoption of PMAS. Although VA changed its strategic direction and discontinued HealtheVet in August 2010, we consider the initial steps taken to be responsive to our recommendation to finalize and implement a governance structure for HealtheVet.

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