VA IT reorg generates focus on requirements

As the Veterans Affairs Department reorganizes its IT staff under the department CIO, VA must identify who is to define requirements for applications development. VA has created a work group to develop requirements governance and steps to improve the determination of requirements, said VA CIO Robert Howard.

VA now is examining who among the up to 1,600 applications development staff are strictly IT personnel and come under Howard's authority and those who will remain at the health, benefits and burial administrations to determine requirements for planned applications. Requirements identify the scope and activities for an application based on business needs.

'The decision to centralize development has definitely turned the burner up on requirements determination,' Howard said today at an event sponsored by the American Council for Technology.

VA is trying to introduce to the VA health, benefits and burial administrations the degree of rigor in defining requirements found at the Defense Department, he said.

Applications development, which until recently resided with VA's health, benefits and burial administrations, has included determining requirements. But under the IT centralization plan, the department CIO also will have responsibility of applications development. Paul Tibbits, VA deputy CIO for enterprise development, heads up VA IT development.

Distinguishing between the applications and requirements personnel, however, can be difficult.

'A lot relates to just how IT really is that person. We've got physicians who have been instrumental in putting VistA (electronic health record system) together and who have IT backgrounds, but they're also physicians,' he said.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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