Veterans Affairs: Subcommittee Post-Hearing Questions Concerning the Department's Information Technology Management Page: 4 of 6
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the Indian Health Service-take various actions to strengthen the management and oversight
of the government computer-based patient record (GCPR) project (the predecessor strategy).
These steps included (1) designating a lead entity with final decision-making authority and
(2) creating comprehensive and coordinated plans that included an agreed-upon mission and
clear goals, objectives, and performance measures to ensure that the agencies could share
comprehensive, meaningful, accurate, and secure patient health care data. We reiterated the
need for VA to implement these recommendations in our June 2002 report,7 and also made
additional recommendations that the participating agencies (1) revisit the original goals and
objectives of the GCPR initiative to determine if they remained valid and, where necessary,
revise the goals and objectives to be aligned with the current strategy and direction of the
project; and (2) commit the executive support necessary for adequately managing the project
and ensure that sound project management principles are followed in carrying out the
initiative. VA concurred with these recommendations.
The actions that VA and DOD took in response to the recommendations resulted in a revised
strategy whereby patient data would be exchanged and a common health information
infrastructure and architecture comprised of standardized data, communications, security, and
high-performance health information systems would be developed. VA and DOD intend to
accomplish this with two initiatives. The first, FHIE, is focused on DOD providing
information to VA clinicians. A second initiative, referred to as HealthePeople (Federal), is
intended to allow the two-way exchange of clinical information, with an emphasis on
establishing a common health information infrastructure and architecture. VA and DOD
have stated that they plan to complete this initiative by the end of 2005.
Along with designating VA as the lead agency for FHIE, VA and DOD took actions to
improve project management that should continue to help guide this initiative to a successful
outcome. For example,
* goals and objectives have been revised and aligned with the new FHIE strategy;
* a permanent project manager has been assigned to the initiative, and he is using project
management software to facilitate the monitoring of assigned tasks;
* executive-level reviews are being conducted for systems development and deployment
* weekly testing and technical meetings are being held; and
* monthly interagency in-process reviews are being conducted by VA's Deputy CIO for
Health and DOD's CIO for Military Health Systems.
VA and DOD officials reported that the nationwide deployment and implementation of the
first phase of FHIE was successfully completed in July. The first phase has enabled the one-
way transfer of demographic information,8 laboratory results, outpatient pharmacy data, and
7U.S. General Accounting Office, Veterans Affairs: Sustained Management Attention Is Key to Achieving
Information Technology Results, GAO-02-703 (Washington, D.C.: June 12, 2002).
8The demographic information consists of patient name, DOD eligibility category, Social Security number,
address, date of birth, religion, primary language, sex, race, and marital status.
GAO-03-261R Post-Hearing Questions on VA IT
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United States. General Accounting Office. Veterans Affairs: Subcommittee Post-Hearing Questions Concerning the Department's Information Technology Management, text, November 5, 2002; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc299872/m1/4/: accessed October 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.