New Comprehensive Plan to Guide VA IT Modernization

Posted by Angie Petty on January 17, 2018

Small Businesses in Big Data

In September, the VA released a new comprehensive information technology plan which is meant to guide the departments IT efforts over the next several years with a focus on modernizing systems and infrastructure to provide greater capabilities to employees and veterans.

The plan will be iterative with ongoing revisions and additions, and will focus first on the Health IT Portfolio with particular emphasis on the EHR transition.

VA’s plan enables and accelerates modernization by:

  • Alignment with the Secretary’s modernization priorities.
  • Increasing access, engagement, and interoperability through expanded telehealth, robotics, artificial intelligence, mobile devices, and digital services.
  • Leveraging the cloud, digital platforms, and infrastructure to drive fundamental change.
  • Addressing each key portfolio within VA – Health, Benefits, Memorials, Corporate, and Enterprise
  • Providing a detailed roadmap for the 14 key programs and systems required for modernization
  • Realigning 80% of active projects to capabilities provided by these 14 systems
  • Shifting focus to leading in digital innovation and realizing efficiencies through managed service and strategic sourcing.

The 14 key programs encompassed in the plan include:

  1. EHR
  2. Telehealth
  3. Community Care
  4. Other Health IT Programs (Suicide prevention and Homelessness)
  5. VBA Capabilities
  6. National Cemetery Administration (NCA) Capabilities
  7. Customer Relationship Management
  8. Finance
  9. Human Resources 
  10. Supply Chain Management
  11. IT Infrastructure
  12. Cloud and Data Center Consolidation
  13. Trusted Information Sharing Platform
  14. Analytics

VA plans to use “buy first,” integration, security, and digitization as four of the overall guiding principles for IT modernization.  

VA will evaluate IT investments against business requirements and service needs with a philosophy of “Buy First” then “Build/Reuse.”  Buy first also means VA will use COTS solutions as they are, and minimize customization.

VA will also focus on integration of systems and application. According to VA’s plan, the infrastructure framework should support the integration of EHR, ERP, non-ERP and other systems and applications via VA Common Service Platforms.

VA plans to implement extensive policies and procedures to assure privacy and security of veteran information. In today’s internet-based IT environment, protecting VA critical infrastructure, assets, networks, systems, and data is one of the most significant challenges the department faces.  VA must respond to increasingly sophisticated cyber threats and malicious intrusions.

VA also wants to achieve digitization as default by minimizing human interaction in business processes and maximizing self-service capability through implementation of content and data digitization at an enterprise level. 

VA’s 40-page Powerpoint IT plan shows details and timelines for modernization of IT for each of the 14 key programs over the next eight years, describing the current state and the planned future state.

According to the document, the VA IT vision synthesizes other program roadmaps and will continue to evolve as those programs mature.  The plan will also inform other detailed planning activities such as the Integrated Master Plan/Integrated Master Schedule and Multi-Year Programming/Budget development. 

VA’s next steps, as stated in the plan, include:

  • Reviewing program roadmaps with VHA, VBA, NCA, Corporate, and OI&T to confirm alignment with strategic drivers and execution feasibility (through FY 2018 Q1).
  • Refining IT design principles for a modernized VA (through FY 2018 Q1).
  • Briefing VA leadership and business stakeholders (e.g. VHA) (through FY 2018 Q1).
  • Aligning with strategic planning; Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Evaluation (PPBE); and Multi-Year Programming (MYP) (through FY 2018 Q2).
  • Establishing permanent governance for the IT Roadmap (through FY 2018 Q2).
  • Collaborating with the Enterprise Program Management Office (ePMO) and the Account Management Office (AMO) to translate IT roadmap into Enterprise Architecture and IT Strategies (through FY 2018 Q2).
  • Integrating with organization change management activities (through FY 2018 Q2).

Contractors may find new opportunities to assist VA with IT modernization as the new plan is implemented. Expect focuses on cloud computing, artificial intelligence, mobile devices, telehealth, cybersecurity, analytics and digital services. Acquisition activity will likely run through the T4NG, SEWP V and GSA Schedule 70.  Hardware and software purchases may be made via the Commodity Enterprise Contract (CEC) depending on whether it is recompeted in the near future. The current contracts expire in March 2018. 

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