House Lawmakers Say VA Needs to Focus on New IT Systems

House lawmakers questioned the Department of Veterans Affairs about why the agency continued to increase spending for legacy technology systems despite the need for updated systems, Federal News Network reported Tuesday.

Members of the House Veterans Affairs Technology Modernization Subcommittee said the VA devoted too much time and resources to retain aging systems. More than 80 percent of its IT budget is spent on operations and maintenance of such tools. 

The lawmakers noted the figure may continue to grow. The VA Office of Information and Technology is expected to receive an estimated $4.1 billion in funding from the agency’s budget in 2020. 

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., ranking member of the House subcommittee, said legacy systems could receive 90 percent of the total IT spending in 2020. 

“We have been devoting more attention to IT, but the situation is actually getting worse,” he said. 

Banks and the Government Accountability Office called on the VA to devote more funding and personnel to procure and develop new programs and capabilities. 

“I agree we have to invest in IT, but I need to know this will actually bend that cost curve and produce some new capabilities rather than perpetuate the current state of affairs,” Banks said.

The department is struggling to meet the requirements of its IT initiatives because of a lack of consistent IT leadership and security.

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