Hearing on the Current State of Affairs for Information Technology With VA, Hearing Before the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Tenth Congress, First Session, September 19, 2007   [open pdf - 2MB]

"Over the past several years, this Committee has held multiple oversight hearings on VA [Veterans' Affairs] IT [Information Technology] issues. Often, these hearings have been in reaction to public failures of IT, including last year's data theft. This year, as we talk about seamless transition, we also think about IT and how we can do that, as well. Lost in the outcry about these failures was the recognition that while IT can help VA in many ways, it is only a tool, not an overall solution to a problem or a need. Without competent management, sound business practices, trained users, and a clear idea of desired outcomes, IT not only fails to be an asset, it can even become part of the problem. A recent VA IG [Inspector General] audit that I requested on waiting times at VA facilities is a good example of how IT can and cannot be used. The investigation looked into the disconnect between what VA managers tell us about waiting times for VA appointments--that there are virtually none--and what veterans and stakeholders tell us about the existence of long lines. What the IG found was problems with the accuracy and completeness of the waiting lists, lists that are generated from VA's electronic health care records system. VA responded to the IG's findings in part by suggesting that new computer software will solve the problem. This is not an exclusive answer. Unless and until Congress and VA leadership can rely on VA's data as it is entered into databases, we cannot work together to get an accurate picture of the state of VA care and provide appropriate resources. IT can help, but only when there is a clear agreement on how to collect and report information."

Report Number:
S. Hrg. 110-; Senate Hearing 110-
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