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VA CIO Roger Baker on Federal IT Reform 6 Months Later

VA CIO Roger Baker, Photo: va.gov

For Department of Veterans Affairs Chief Information Officer Roger Baker, the word “reform,” is nothing new.

Writing in a blog post on CIO.gov to mark six months since the federal government launched its ambitious 25-point IT reform plan, Baker said the department was well-positioned to begin working on the plan’s mandates, “because for federal IT, transformation is all about instilling the disciplines practiced by effective private sector organizations: focusing on results, measuring our performance, caring about every dollar, and making hard decisions,” he said.

With a budget of more than $125 billion and more than 300,000 employees, VA is the second largest federal department, superseded only by the Defense Department.

That translates into a need for an effective IT enterprise. In VA’s case, that means a “nationwide single, consolidated network, 314,000 desktop computers, 30,000 laptops, 18,000 BlackBerries and mobile devices, 200,000+ medical devices and 448,000 email accounts,” Baker said. “It is because of the scale of the enterprise that we have been focused on executing” the IT reform plan.

For example, the department needed no prodding to join the cloud-first initiates. Cloud already plays a role in VA’s Post-9/11 GI Bill and its benefits management system.

Like many other federal agency-level CIOs, Baker touted the effectiveness of TechStat sessions — review sessions held at the agency level to review IT projects.

Baker said VA has held 15 review sessions, so far, one of which led to stopping a behind-schedule project asset management projects until the department finishes conducting an in-depth follow-up review to “determine an effective way forward,” Baker added. “With the rest of the investments we put through the TechStat process, we were able to improve performance by identifying issues early and taking corrective actions,” he said.

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