Tester zeroes in on VA scheduling at IT hearing

Senator pushes agencies to modernize, make government more efficient

(U.S. SENATE) – In the wake of news surrounding the VA, Senator Jon Tester today focused his hearing on the federal government’s use of information technology (IT) to help provide veterans better access to care.

Tester, Chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the federal workforce, pushed witnesses to explain how the VA will prevent mismanagement of its computer scheduling system. He also asked why the VA and Defense Department continue to have trouble integrating their electronic health records.

“We’ve all heard reports of VA employees being instructed to manipulate data to make it appear that wait times are non-existent and that veterans are receiving care on the dates they requested,” Tester a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee said. “What steps has the VA taken to reduce or prevent manipulation of computer scheduling?”

Stephen Warren, who heads the VA’s IT division, told Tester that the VA’s ongoing audit of the system will give the Department the information it needs to clarify its scheduling practices and remove bad actors from the system.

Tester called today’s hearing amid renewed attention on the government’s technological capabilities. He said responsibly modernizing the federal government’s information technology will improve services and save taxpayers money.

“As the federal government modernizes its computer systems, it’s critical that we move forward in a responsible and cost-effective manner,” Tester said.

Tester’s hearing also examined how the government is collecting, protecting and sharing personal information, the use of IT contractors and worker retention at various government agencies. It also addressed successful federal IT initiatives, such as telemedicine services for Montana veterans, and how those initiatives could be expanded upon.

Tester’s panel, which is officially called the Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce, most recently held a hearing to examine the state of the federal workforce in the wake of sequestration, the government shutdown and pay freezes.

Today’s full hearing can be viewed online HERE.