Veterans Affairs: Subcommittee Post-Hearing Questions Concerning the Department's Information Technology Management.
GAO-03-261R November 5, 2002
The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) has made progress in improving its overall management of information technology, including centralization of information technology functions, programs, and funding under the department-level chief information officer (CIO CIO: see American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.
(Chief Information Officer) The executive officer in charge of information processing in an organization. ). The department has also made progress in developing an enterprise architecture, improving information security, and managing important information systems initiatives being pursued by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) A subset of Visual Basic that provides a common language for customizing Microsoft applications. VBA supports COM, which allows a VBA script to invoke internal functions within Excel, Word and other COM-based programs or to make use of ) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA VHA Veterans Health Administration
VHA Variable Housing Allowance
VHA Villages Homeowners Association
VHA Voluntary Hospitals Association
VHA Virtual Home Agent
VHA Very High Altitude
VHA Vapor Hazard Area
VHA Vermont Holstein-Friesian Association ). GAO reviewed (1) whether VA's proposed business and enabling functions provide the management tools necessary to start the process for implementing VA's enterprise architecture; (2) how veterans have benefited from the VETSNET Program; (3) what must be done to assure successful implementation of the Federal Health Information Exchange (FHIE); and (4) whether VA can realistically implement HealtheVet-Vista by the end of 2005. GAO found that the Federal CIO's Council's guidance on enterprise architecture advises organizations to develop a set of controls to help them successfully manage the process of creating, changing, and using an enterprise architecture. Although the enterprise business functions and key enabling functions are essential components of the architecture that VA is developing, they cannot be considered a primary tool for managing the enterprise architecture effort. Although VBA has spent more than $40 million since 1996 on developing the VETSNET compensation and pension replacement, veterans have not received measurable benefits from this initiative. Successful implementation of FHIE will largely depend on the extent to which consistent and effective project management and oversight exists to guide the initiative. Beyond FHIE, VA and the Department of Defense (DOD (1) (Dial On Demand) A feature that allows a device to automatically dial a telephone number. For example, an ISDN router with dial on demand will automatically dial up the ISP when it senses IP traffic destined for the Internet. ) have envisioned a long-term strategy--HealthePeople--involving the two-way exchange of patient health care information. This exchange is expected to depend on the successful interoperability, and resultant sharing of secure health care data, between DOD's Composite Health Care System The Composite Health Care System (CHCS) is a VMS-based relational database designed by Science Applications International Corporation and used by all United States and OCONUS military health care centers. II and VA's HealtheVet VISTA, both of which continue under development.