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House Veterans Affairs Panel Seeking IT Experts to Monitor $10B Health Record Update

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Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., chairman of House Veterans Affairs Committee, said the panel faces challenges in hiring information technology specialists who will help lawmakers monitor the $10 billion electronic health record overhaul at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Nextgov reported Monday.

Takano said the committee needs the IT expertise to assist the Technology Modernization subpanel in overseeing VA’s electronic health record modernization. He noted that the VA panel needs individuals with the combined technical expertise, policy knowledge and willingness to accept the government's salary range.

“They’re usually very valuable in the job market, so finding that person who wants to have this be their work is my challenge,” Takano told Nextgov.

These experts will mainly help lawmakers understand changes with electronic health records. The program has been $350 million over budget, and officials want to develop more technical knowledge to control costs. The shortage in IT personnel in Congress comes amid tightening budgets and growing tech policy portfolios, Takano said.

Lawmakers suggested reviving the Office of Technology Assessment, which officials abolished in 1995. The office would help lawmakers monitor emerging technologies and the impact of new policies. Takano also supports efforts to bring industry experts to Capitol Hill for short-term services to support IT efforts.