Government Technology Insider curates news about a variety of topics related to the IT challenges facing government agencies. In this week’s roundup, we look at a number of stories about the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including a nominee for its CIO position, how the agency keeps its networks safe with more than 55,000 connected devices at 1,700+ facilities, which of its IT upgrades are behind schedule, and what it is looking for from vendors who propose to redesign VA.gov. Read the news here:
Trump nominates James Gfrerer to head VA IT
President Donald Trump has nominated James Paul Gfrerer to be the next head of IT for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). If confirmed by the Senate, Gfrerer, who spent two decades in the Marine Corps and more recently served as an executive director in Ernst & Young, LLP’s cybersecurity practice, will serve as VA’s CIO and assistant secretary for information and technology. Gfrerer’s confirmation would put an end to the VA Office of Information and Technology’s year-and-a-half run without an official CIO. At a recent House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, lawmakers criticized the lack of consistent leadership at the VA, particularly in roles that handle the department’s electronic health record (EHR) modernization contract. Read more about the nomination here.
Improving Security in Federal Healthcare Systems: Veterans Affairs Showcases its Approach
Long before the internet, connected devices provided monitoring, record-keeping and drug delivery to patients in hospitals, clinics, and research facilities operated by federal agencies. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which operates the country’s largest integrated healthcare system, has more than 1,700 facilities nationwide with more than 55,000 such devices now in use. These devices also can pose a risk to the security of the networks to which they connect. The VA has taken steps to address the problem, including the 2009 launch of the Medical Device Protection Program, a set of protocols to address the security of medical devices on the network, including its Medical Device Isolation Architecture, intended to enhance device security by isolating them. Read about it here.
VA Says It’s Ready For Appeals Modernization, But IT Upgrades Have Fallen Behind
Since Congress passed and the president signed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act into law last summer, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is piloting and has seen some success with the new process, otherwise known as the Rapid Appeals Modernization Plan (RAMP). The VA originally told Congress it would finish three-quarters of the IT upgrades it needs some time next month, in order to implement a new, faster appeals process by the congressionally-mandated deadline by early next year. However, it has adjusted that timeline and now expects it will have roughly 35 percent of its needed IT updates complete in August. The remaining upgrades will come in December, two months before VA is expected to fully implement its new appeals process. Read more about RAMP and Veterans Benefits Administration’s serious backlog of pending appeals here.
VA is Rethinking Its Entire Online Presence
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is looking for a team of developers to consolidate its far-flung agency websites into a single, user-friendly online portal and lead a complete redesign of the agency’s primary website, VA.gov. This would include building a new content management system within the VA Enterprise Cloud and migrating content from existing sites to the new platform, according to a request for information. The overhaul is part of the VA Digital Modernization Strategy, an agency-wide effort to streamline online services and make it easier for veterans to navigate the benefits process. To that end, the broader VA.gov redesign intends to bring all its veteran-facing sites—vets.gov, myhealth.va.gov, ebenefits.va.gov and explore.va.gov—under the umbrella of the main site. Once completed, the site would act as a one-stop shop for all veteran services. Read more about the VA’s plans for VA.gov here.
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