The Veterans Affairs Department has put a hold on 45 information technology projects, the bulk of which are healthcare IT programs that are either behind schedule or over budget.
The announcement by Eric Shinseki, secretary of Veterans Affairs, and Roger Baker, assistant secretary of IT, came a little over a month after the inspector general's office at the VA released a blistering report on the chronic failure of an IT centralization effort at the VA.
That report noted that 37 of the 40 IT projects submitted for the 2009 budget year to the federal Office of Management and Budget were on the office's “high-risk ” list, meaning that the projects “were both poorly planned and poorly performing.”
The holds came after Shinseki ordered a review of all 300 IT programs at the VA and the implementation of a project management protocol labeled the Program Management Accountability System, or PMAS, according to a VA news release.
A new project plan under PMAS must be in place for each of the 45 programs temporarily halted before work can resume. The projects will be reviewed to find out whether they should be continued, according to a news release. The status of VA IT programs also will be publicly reported to an IT dashboard, or concise gathering and reporting of data, ramped up last month by the budget office.
"We will use every tool at our disposal to bring about greater accountability and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely,” Baker said in the release. “PMAS and the IT Dashboard will be critical indicators of whether our IT projects are on schedule and on budget, and if they are not, we will take swift action to cut down on waste and redundancy.”
Several key VA clinical programs are on the stop-work list, including the second phase of the Clinical/Health Data Repositories project, and several laboratory and pharmacy system re-engineering efforts.