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Report: Congress Wants Accountable Entity to Oversee EHR Modernization at DoD, VA

Some lawmakers have raised concerns about the lack of a single body that would be accountable as the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs modernize and integrate their electronic health records systems despite the presence of an interagency program office, Federal News Radio reported Friday.

The report said Congress mandated the formation of an IPO a decade ago to help VA and DoD facilitate EHR interoperability, but the office has seen its responsibilities reduced in recent years.

“I think it’s evident that they never had the clout to either mediate or resolve the issues between VA and DoD,” Carol Harris, director of IT acquisition management issues at the Government Accountability Office, said of the IPO.

“The IPO was never set up to succeed, because neither of the departments were ever willing to relinquish control,” Harris added.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs’ technology modernization subcommittee, said at a Thursday hearing that he believes the IPO should be given more responsibility and authority over EHR modernization efforts at both departments.

“Most everyone here today agrees the IPO needs to do more. My hope is DoD and VA will hash out what that looks like,” Banks noted.

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