Obama Nomine Makes her Case to Take Over Tech at VA

Adam Mazmanian | Adam Mazmanian | May 19, 2015

LaVerne H. Council, the private-sector IT consultant and former Fortune 50 CIO who is President Barack Obama's pick to take over the Office of Information and Technology at the Department of Veterans Affairs, told lawmakers May 5 how she planned to manage the VA's technology team and its $4.2 billion in annual tech spending.

Senators on the Veterans Affairs Committee were eager for details and a timeline on plans to guarantee a seamless transition of health data between the departments of Defense and VA, as service members move into retirement. "There have been perennial criticisms of the lack of seamless interoperability between the VA and the Department of Defense," said Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal. "I have sat at this table for a number of years, and we've heard a lot about plans and blueprints and roadmaps, and the problem, as you observe, continues to this day."

The VA faces data integration challenges between its open source VistA system and the two major DOD electronic health record systems currently in use, and the future challenge of integrating with the consolidated system the Pentagon is in the process of procuring. A decision on that $11 billion procurement is expected in June. Council said the answer is data. "It's not necessarily interoperability of the systems, it's interoperability of the data. This will be the first thing to go after," she said. "One of the reasons I think I was called for this job is because of my reputation of being able to do what I said I will do."...