The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Veterans Affairs IT System Needs Major Repairs

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a systemic problem with information technology (IT) management, according to a June 22, 2016 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.  The report follows up on recommendations made by GAO following the agency’s February, 2015 designation of the IT system as a high-risk area.  It highlights the ongoing need for VA to overhaul its IT to better ensure the quality and safety of veterans’ healthcare.  Despite billions of dollars being spent over the past several years on managing and modernizing IT systems, including $3.9 billion in fiscal year 2015, major problems remain unresolved.

VA has become the poster child for how federal agencies waste money and fail at IT operations.  This is the agency responsible for caring for those who fought for our country and our freedom, paid the price, and they are seeking help but don’t get it in a timely manner.  Scheduling issues are just one morsel of the whole problem, and substandard IT systems are partially to blame.  For example, two IT systems are more than 50 years old:  personnel and accounting, and tracking the delivery of benefits.

It’s been apparent for many years:  VA must do more to enact major changes to its IT systems in order to properly care for the nation’s veterans.  A September 2015 GAO report found that VA had still not conducted a customer satisfaction survey nor developed goals for improving the failing IT systems.

On May 23, 2016, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald shared his horrific thoughts on VA wait times:   

When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what's important? What's important is, what's your satisfaction with the experience? And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.

Veterans have died waiting in those lines.  No wonder the VA has failed to conduct a customer satisfaction survey.  

It’s time to fix IT at the VA.

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