President signs V-A overhaul bill with Sen. Warner’s technology inititaive

mark-warnerThe President today signed into law bipartisan legislation to reform and provide additional resources for the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs (V-A). The legislation makes it easier for veterans to access health care, provides funding to hire additional health professionals across the V-A health system, and makes it easier to discipline V-A managers for poor performance.

The V-A reform legislation includes U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner’s (D-VA) initiative to enlist the pro bono assistance of private sector technology experts to help fix the V-A’s broken scheduling system. The Warner initiative directs the V-A secretary to assemble a pro-bono task force to review the V-A scheduling system and recommend improvements within 45 days, and implement those improvements within one year.

“Today is a huge win for the more than 800,000 veterans in Virginia. I’m very, very pleased this law includes my provision to bring in a team of the best and brightest I-T experts to work with the V-A to more quickly and efficiently provide our veterans with the care and services they have earned. Even better, this won’t cost tax payers a dime. This public-private partnership is truly a win-win,” Sen. Warner said. “I’m grateful that Congress was able to work together in a bipartisan way to fix the inexcusable problems facing our veterans.”

Sen. Warner and the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) have been in discussions for several weeks with the V-A and White House officials to design a workable plan for this private-sector partnership with the V-A. It builds upon a template established in 2011, when NVTC and Sen. Warner partnered with the U.S. Army to help design and implement a technology fix for Arlington National Cemetery after reports that the remains of warfighters had been misidentified and misplaced by Cemetery officials. An NVTC team worked with Cemetery officials to produce a comprehensive blueprint to correct and modernize the cemetery’s I-T and business practices. NVTC has said that they stand ready to assist the V-A with its scheduling issues.

“The more the government wants to include and involve the private sector in the solutions to their problems, the more effectively those problems will be solved. So we’re delighted that the Senator has called on NVTC again. We’re also very pleased that he got that part of the legislation passed…On behalf of all of my member companies, I want to say thank you to the Senator because when it comes to military veterans it’s hard to find a better friend, it really is,”Bobbie Kilberg, President & CEO of the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC), said on a conference call with Senator Warner and Virginia reporters.

Sen. Warner’s provision requires the Secretary of the V-A to enlist a task force of technology companies to review “the needs of the Department with respect to the scheduling system and scheduling software,” and to report within 45 days with specific actions to improve scheduling and software.  The Secretary is instructed to implement these recommendations within one year of receiving the pro bono assessment.

         
 

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