I am rounding out my first ten months as the chief information officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Most of my career has been in the private sector, but I have spent some time in government service. I joined the Department of Health and Human Services to help fix the Affordable Care Act website after its disastrous launch. What I learned from those experiences is informing my work at VA now, and I have one major takeaway: solution-focused engineering and collaboration can address many of the key challenges VA is facing and can facilitate practical solutions.
The organization I manage, VA’s Office of Information and Technology, had already delivered impressive results. OIT develops and supports the vast portfolio of digital products and information systems veterans and VA employees rely on to access care and benefits. From the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, OIT accelerated the deployment of tele-critical care and exponentially expanded VA’s telehealth capacity that enabled an increase from 40,000 visits per month before the pandemic to 40,000 per day at its height. OIT also upgraded capabilities that supported VA’s shift to telework for 400,000 VA employees and contractors, including the delivery of more than 200,000 new laptops amid a global supply chain disruption. Despite great uncertainty about the course and duration of the pandemic, OIT staff remained focused on a shared vision, stretch goals and joint priorities that ensured veterans would continue to receive benefits and care and that the department’s work would get done. With critical resources mapped to those goals, OIT demonstrated its true capabilities and talents…
Our overall approach must be to get back to basics and pursue excellence in organizational strategic planning, bringing discipline to how we prioritize requirements and allocate funding. We must examine how we engineer and maintain key IT products and services, avoid downtime, service our VA customers and support top VA priorities such as electronic health record modernization and our financial management systems. We must also clearly articulate and deploy a strategy to secure and protect VA’s vital infrastructure and our veterans’ information.
On a parallel track, we must never lose sight of the exceptional customer experiences we’re trying to create with our products and services. And we should be the government leader in promoting diversity and inclusion among our teams, so that we can represent the diversity of our customers, create a workplace where people feel welcome and supported and be a destination that attracts the very best talent… Read the full article here.
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