VistA refactoring will be done in the open

Molly Bernhart Walker | FierceGovernmentIT | August 27, 2012

The Veterans Affairs Department requires Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, or VistA, code to be refactored in an open and collaborative way, said VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker during an Aug. 24 press call. Some open source advocates questioned VA's Aug. 15 contract award to Tampa, Fla.-based Ray Group International. The $4.47 million sole-source contract for technological support in making VistA "more modular and easier for developers to work with" led some to believe Ray Group would refactor VistA code in isolation.

"It is intended specifically to involve the community every step along the way and get community input as to how the refactoring ought to be done," said Baker.  Baker said Ray Group is required to start by working with the open source code being used in Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent, the VA's open source code repository. The contractor must also "at least weekly" have conversations "with anybody from the open source community that wants to participate" through open calls. Finally, said Baker, all VistA refactoring must be contributed back to OSEHRA...