VA halts 15 technology projects

Another 17 projects committed to meeting new milestones

A review of 45 suspended information technology projects at the Veterans Affairs Department has caused 15 projects to be stopped or have funding cut, according to W. Scott Gould, deputy secretary of the VA.

Leaders of another 17 projects have committed to meeting milestones to deliver new functionality to customers, Gould said Oct. 26 at the Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, Va. The remaining 13 projects have been re-planned or restarted, Gould said.

The leaders of those 17 projects have been told “basically you’ve got 60 days. You tell us what that new schedule is and if you don’t make it we’re going to shut you down,” Gould said at the conference sponsored by the American Council for Technology and the Industry Advisory Council. “Many projects, frankly, are challenged by the inability to meet basic cost and schedule performance measures,” Gould added.

In July, the VA announced it would temporarily suspend the 45 information technology projects that were either behind schedule or over budget. Project managers were ordered to develop new project plans with milestones that meet the requirements of the Program Management Accountability System.

If three customer-delivery milestones are missed the project can be halted and re-planned, according to Gould, who added that 13 projects have been re-planned or restarted.

“To move ahead on the remaining projects, we need to have staff,” Gould said. “We are currently working to fill vacancies at all levels in the organizations. We also need upgraded skills from our present IT workforce.”

Several efforts are under way to train and recruit employees, Gould said. For example, the VA Acquisition Academy was started in 2008 to train the next generation of acquisition and business leaders, he said.

Gould declined to reveal what will happen to individual projects, saying the agency will make an announcement in the near future.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

Reader Comments

Thu, Jan 28, 2010

Does anyone know where you can find the actual list of the 15 projects that were cut?

Mon, Nov 2, 2009

The biggest hinderance in VA's IT projects, unfortunatley, in most cases has turned out to be the very VistA developers that used to be entrepreneurial. Now there totally in the mode of do nothing, that way we get to keep our jobs. They are the biggest hindrance to VA modernizing their IT systems.

Fri, Oct 30, 2009 FJ

Wow - that sounds like leadership and accountability - “basically you’ve got 60 days. You tell us what that new schedule is and if you don’t make it we’re going to shut you down...”

Thu, Oct 29, 2009

Unfortunately greed and incompetence aren't the drivers for most of the projects that are "behind schedule". The VA has a very entrepreneurial culture. This has paid big dividends for the VA as they have evolved things like VistA. As a result, the creative process keeps requirements on the move. This flies in the face of structured program/project management. The structure provided by PMAS and the way it is being implemented will [hopefully] bring the appropriate structure to the process. The other big driver for the delays in schedule has been the [seemingly] never-ending reorganization of IT resources that, in my humble opinion, has done nothing but inhibit the VA IT staff from getting their work done. It has resulted in so much bureaucracy and management levels it's amazing that anything gets done to improve the services to the Veteran.

Wed, Oct 28, 2009

It would appear that “somebody” has the guts, integrity and can do what is "right" at the VA. It is ashamed the folks responsible for these investments were stupid and greedy; I just hope the VA does not make the same mistake twice by hiring incompetent folks.

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