The first inkling that changes were coming at the VA came one month ago when Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki, along with the CIO of the agency, Roger Baker, announced an aggressive new plan to look for technology project failures.
“By halting programs that fail to meet their delivery milestones, we will prevent wasteful spending and demand accountability from everyone involved in delivering and supporting the technologies that will help transform the VA,” Shinseki said. VA is using a Project Management Accountability System (PMAS) to track all new IT programs at the agency.
The fallout we are seeing this week is a direct result of the new policies put in place by Shinseki and Baker. Targeted projects range from prosthetics enhancements to the sharing of lab data sharing and interoperability. They are not being terminated outright. “We are going to change things and try and bring them back on track,” Baker said. “We still have a requirement for the things those projects are trying to accomplish.”
The bad news here is that 45 VA projects worth about $200 million of the 2009 fiscal budget were so “unhappy” that they had to be put on hold. But there’s a silver lining… or at least a silver-plated one. The federal government now has new tools, personnel and leadership in position to root out problems and bring them into the light. According to Kundra, “The dashboard is an impetus and is a driver for looking deep into where the problems are with these projects.”
“We were able to catch these contracts, in part, thanks to our new tool,” Kundra said.