VA creates new chief information post

Keep the focus on veterans, says
Harold F. Gracey Jr., VA acting assistant secretary of information and technology.

The Veterans Affairs Department has created a new office to oversee
systems and telecommunications.

The head of the new Office of the Assistant Secretary of Information and Technology
will also be VA’s chief information officer. Current CIO D. Mark Catlett, who is also
the department’s chief financial officer, will become the assistant deputy secretary
of budget.

“Our mission is to help the VA use information technology in providing the best
service possible to our nation’s veterans and their families,” said Harold F.
Gracey Jr., acting assistant secretary of the new office. “The challenge is to keep
our focus on veterans, not technology.”

VA Secretary Togo D. West Jr. established the office last month to strengthen
management of the VA systems that handle benefits for more than 25 million veterans,
department spokesman Ken McKinnon said.

Those systems include networks that store and share medical information, process
benefit payments and manage six insurance programs. They also host VA’s financial

VA systems and telecommunications run on a WAN linking data centers in Austin, Texas,
Hines, Ill. and Philadelphia, 172 VA medical centers, 58 regional benefit offices, 600
outpatient medical centers, 200 counseling centers and VA headquarters in Washington.

Once West nominates a CIO and following Senate approval, Gracey will become the deputy
CIO and principal assistant secretary.

The new VA office will incorporate the Office of IRM, which Catlett ran as VA’s
assistant secretary of management.

Gracey previously was the department chief of staff in the secretary’s office.

“During Gracey’s tenure as chief of staff since January 1994, he has served
two VA secretaries, the VA deputy secretary, and veterans with skill and devotion,”
West said in a statement.  

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