VA reform bill heads to president with Sen. Warner’s initiative for I-T task force
The U.S. Senate has joined the House of Representatives in approving bipartisan legislation to begin reforming the troubled U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The legislation, which 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, is expected to be signed into law by the President as soon as next week. The Warner initiative requires the V-A secretary to assemble a task force to review the V-A scheduling system and recommend improvements following reports of falsified scheduling records and severe treatment delays at V-A health facilities across the country.
“This is truly a win-win: this pro bono assistance from the best and brightest in the private sector will allow the V-A to more quickly and efficiently provide our veterans with the care and services they have earned. Moreover, the assessment and recommendations for improvement will not cost the taxpayers a dime,” Sen. Warner said. “The problems facing our veterans are inexcusable, and I am grateful that Congress was able to work together in a bipartisan way to start implementing commonsense solutions.”
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 a 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 a technology fix for Arlington National Cemetery after reports that the remains of warfighters had been misidentified and even 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 and we’re looking forward to the President signing it. 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,” said Bobbie Kilberg, President & CEO of the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC).
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.