The U.S. Veterans Affairs Department has faltered in its efforts to effectively manage its information technology systems, spending billions of dollars on projects that often failed to reach their intended goals, according to a report (PDF) from the Government Accountability Office.
GAO calls out VA on IT security, efficiency
Specifically, according to the report, the VA spent $127 million over nine years to develop a more-effective outpatient-scheduling system. But that project was bogged down by weaknesses such as inappropriate software testing and inadequate risk-management strategies.
The VA also needs to implement more-effective IT security safeguards and work to overcome barriers that hinder its exchange of health information with the U.S. Defense Department, according to the report. The GAO urged the VA and the Defense Department to take steps—including working on joint strategic planning and architecture development—that will ease barriers to sharing electronic health-record system data.
"Until VA fully addresses these and implements key recommendations, the department will likely continue to deliver system capabilities later than expected; expose its computer systems and sensitive information (including personal information of veterans and their beneficiaries) to an unnecessary and increased risk of unauthorized use, disclosure, tampering, theft and destruction; and not provide efficient and effective joint DOD/VA solutions to meet the needs of our nation's veterans," the report's authors wrote.
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