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Thursday, October 20, 2005

VA will centralize IT budget personnel authority over next year

The Veterans Affairs Department will put control of its IT budget and personnel under the department CIO - a sea change that should prevent future monumental IT system failures.

Congress has sought to give the VA CIO authority over the IT budget, which was $1.8 billion in fiscal 2005. Currently, the department CIO has control over $40 million - less than 3 percent of the department's IT budget.

VA has shelved systems after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on them, such as the $342 million CoreFLS financial-management system and $300 million HR Links automated personnel system.

“This is the first step toward a centralized approach,” VA deputy secretary Gordon Mansfield told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee today. There was not universal agreement on the approach, but a consensus on use of a federated approach was crafted and brought to the secretary for his approval. It will take 12 to 18 months to implement the IT reorganization, Mansfield said.

VA administrations will retain software development for their programs, but they must adhere to the department’s enterprise architecture, which maps out VA’s programs, investments and customer needs.

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