New VA CIO plans aggressive IT timeline

LaVerne Council, the new chief information officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs, has laid out an aggressive timeline to change technology efforts within the agency, focusing on projects that can be completed within six months, those that will take six to 18 months and those that will take longer.

She told an audience at a recent summit that she questions the idea that change is slow in government, according to an article at Federal News Radio. Council also said she's struggled with the advice she received to focus on one or two projects she can get done and receive credit for, when there's so much to be done.

"It's veteran-centric," Council said of her strategy. "It focuses on collaboration and it focuses on creating the best experience. We have to lay the target in front of us and reach it with the veteran in mind."

One of her first tasks in the job was to create an enterprise security strategy focusing on the cybersecurity directives that Federal CIO Tony Scott ordered in the wake of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management attack, according to the article. The plan was submitted to Congress on Sept. 28, and covers eight domains, including medical cyber; privacy; security architecture; governance; and ID and authentication.

Outgoing Department of Veterans Affairs CIO Stephen Warren outlined the agency's streamlined cybersecurity strategic objectives before he left, calling security not just an IT initiative, but a "cultural" responsibility.

A recent Government Accountability Office report, however, illustrates the problems the VA has with big IT projects. It cited continued defects and a lack of response-time goals that have plagued the VA's new electronic benefits management system, which has yet to be fully developed despite nearly $1 billion poured into the project since fiscal year 2009.

To learn more:
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