Principi orders VA IT overhaul

Veterans Affairs secretary Anthony Principi is no longer asking the department's agencies to change, he's telling them.

Citing resistance to change as a barrier to the department's implementation of its One VA enterprise architecture, Principi ordered a major reorganization of IT operations at the department to begin in October.

In an Aug. 6 memo, Principi called for VA to centralize its IT program, including personnel and funding, in the office of CIO John Gauss. 'All of the department's IT functions and personnel will be realigned under the CIO and permanently reassigned effective Oct. 1,' the memo said. The document also gave the CIO authority over the department's IT appropriations.

Principi said he ordered the changes because workers have resisted adopting the One VA enterprise architecture.

Power of one

VA last October announced it would implement the infrastructure plan, saying the One VA initiative would help the department's three major agencies'the Veterans Benefits, Veterans Health and National Cemetery administrations'share information with other government agencies as well as one another.

With the changes, CIOs K. Adair Martinez of VBA, Gary Christopherson of VHA and Joseph Nasari of NCA will become deputy CIOs reporting to Gauss.

Roger Baker, a former Commerce Department CIO who tried to reorganize the CIO structure there, said, 'if you want to have an enterprisewide architecture, then you need to have an enterprisewide vision, which is what this will do.

'If you need to have a One VA vision, then you need to have one VA CIO.'

Gauss last week met with 300 IT employees in Austin, Texas, to discuss the changes and could not be reached for comment.

Principi said a main reason for the change was that accountability for IT resources in the department remained 'elusive.' The three VA organizations also had failed to provide the necessary details for Gauss to determine IT investment costs and develop an integrated IT portfolio, he said.

'Administration IT initiatives continue to progress without the required milestone reviews, thereby negating my direction that VA IT developments work toward an integrated enterprise,' Principi said.

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