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What GAO Found

The independent verification and validation (IV&V) of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) On-line Patient Self Scheduling (OPSS) system and Veteran Appointment Request (VAR) system addressed the requirements of the Faster Care for Veterans Act of 2016 and was consistent with standard practices in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standard for verification and validation. For example, VA’s contract with the MITRE Corporation met the act’s requirement for the department to enter into an agreement with a non-governmental, not for profit entity with expertise in health information technology to perform the IV&V. In addition, VA and MITRE took appropriate steps to ensure independence of the contractor’s staff who conducted the IV&V. Further, the final IV&V report included findings on whether OPSS and VAR met each of the seven minimum capabilities called for in the Faster Care for Veterans Act, and described strengths and weaknesses that MITRE identified. Lastly, MITRE’s report indicated that its approach to conducting the IV&V included each of the specific activities that IEEE recommends for system, software, and hardware verification and validation.

In commenting on a draft of this report, VA concurred that MITRE’s IV&V met the IEEE standards for Software, System, and Hardware verification and validation and agreed that MITRE reviewed the seven minimum capabilities for VAR and OPSS and judged their compliance based on IV&V standards.

Why GAO Did This Study

The Faster Care for Veterans Act of 2016 called for VA to conduct a pilot program under which veterans can use an Internet website or mobile application to schedule and confirm appointments at the department’s medical facilities. The act also called for the department to hire a non-governmental, not-for-profit entity with expertise in health information technology to perform an IV&V of the patient self-scheduling system used in the pilot program, and any other patient self-scheduling system used by the department. The IV&V was to determine whether the system or systems included seven minimum capabilities specified in the act. In April 2017, VA entered into a contract with MITRE to conduct the IV&V of the department’s OPSS and VAR systems.

The act included a provision for GAO to evaluate the IV&V that was required to be conducted for VA’s patient self-scheduling system(s). GAO’s specific objective was to determine if the IV&V included an evaluation of whether the systems provided the seven minimum capabilities specified in the act and was performed consistent with practices identified in IEEE’s Standard for System and Software Verification and Validation. To address the objective, GAO reviewed MITRE’s final IV&V report on OPSS and VAR with respect to the systems’ inclusion of the seven minimum capabilities called for in the act, but did not independently determine whether the systems included the minimum capabilities. GAO also evaluated the report to determine if it addressed applicable practices identified in the IEEE Standard and supplemented its evaluation with interviews of relevant VA and MITRE officials.

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