VA Secretary Bob McDonald learns more about VA’s scheduling system from Michael Logie, Medical Support Assistant at the Phoenix VA Medical Center.

VA Secretary Bob McDonald learns more about VA’s scheduling system from Michael Logie, a medical support assistant at the Phoenix VA Medical Center. (REYNALDO LEAL/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

We know how important it is to get a modern scheduling system in the hands of our employees so they can better meet the needs of Veterans in getting access to care they deserve. We have tried to be as open and transparent about this effort as possible. To continue that openness, I wanted to take a moment to provide an update to the timeline laid out in our recent press release and correct the record on an important aspect of the deployment plan.

On Sept. 17, VA posted a Scheduling Performance Work Statement and business requirements documentation for industry review and comment. We did this so that we could receive industry feedback on our requirements (in addition to feedback already received through constant engagement with vendors over the last year or so), and also identify any inconsistencies or errors.

The comments were due on Sept. 26, and we’re going through an extensive amount of industry feedback at this time.

One thing you may have heard was that the system rollout date would take longer than originally stated. We’re glad our draft release gave us a chance to catch this portrayal of our deployment plan so that we can correct it before the plan is released. VA’s goal remains to select a vendor who can meet our aggressive deployment timeline of 2 years after contract award, in six month increments or less.

Because we have so much feedback to consider before we can lock down our requirements documentation and post the solicitation, some small adjustments to our aggressive contract deadline are necessary. We now believe our request for proposals will come out in October, with an anticipated award of January.

We have to do this right, and we have to do this quickly. We’re working this balance in coordination with industry, Veteran service organizations, Congress and other VA stakeholders. We’re committed to keeping you informed as we continue the process of acquiring and implementing a solution to help get our Veterans access to the healthcare they have earned and deserve.

Stephen WarrenStephen W. Warren is the Executive in Charge and Chief Information Officer with the Office of Information and Technology at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Published on Sep. 30, 2014

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  1. YN1 Lauren Price, USN, Ret. October 7, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    VeteranWarriors is in agreement with many whose sentiments are posted here, including the employee (Eva)! In June, the Secretary held a very quiet meeting held with 3 major medical insurance carriers. One can only assume it was to ask about their “best practices”. (We are still awaiting the actual information via a FOIA request).

    Utilizing the VA-OIT to “build” yet another dysfunctional, hobbled-together, substandard system to manage the healthcare systems (or the claims) for 22 MILLION veterans is a monumental waste of money – TAXPAYER MONEY.

    Kaiser Permanente is the largest insurer in the country. They did not build their own highly functional, integrated systems. They contracted them built by internationally renowned EXPERTS in technology.

    When we examine the annual VA-OIT budget against the numerous failed projects (including the still dysfunctional VBMS) and the abysmal totality of the employees’ credentials in that department tasked with building these huge systems; we TAXPAYERS and VETERANS are left wondering what these tech scholars have over the administration. It is the only logical explanation why nearly $1 TRILLION dollars has been flushed by that department in 5 years with literally nothing to show for it.

    It is beyond time to stop putting band-aids on a gangrenous limb. The amputations are necessary for the body to live. If the VA is ever going to be able to provide, “world-class care”, it MUST begin with all the necessary pieces that support that care.

    • Dan October 8, 2014 at 9:11 am

      Well said, Lauren!

      This guy is a joke. I should know…I work for the clown. Anyone who is willing to continue to use their budget to fund projects they doubt or actually know won’t work while not allowing the local medical facilities IT staff to have ANY budget to even buy a simple desktop scanner or printer fuser kit….well…they’re absolutely the reason the VA is where it is.

      Let’s face it. OIT runs the VA as far as being able to streamline processes and be a real asset to change….meanwhile this group of SES employees (who keep dropping like flies when their EXPENSIVE projects fail) huddle together and continue to promise the world with no real plan….look at this damn Regionalization of OIT they are trying to pass off while the third largest VA hospital has to work with half the staff and a blithering idiot of a CIO (by the accounts of ANY senior staff behind closed doors) while they wait for OIT to get their heads out of their asses….while still not able to provide essential equipment.

      If you KNOW its not working and you KNOW that the local less-senior staff can offer input (the secretary of the VA seems to see the value in it), why the hell are you doing the status quo?! Just fools. As an employee, and especially as a disabled veteran and taxpayer, I hope they all get fired.

  2. Eva October 2, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Please note the problem is not the software. Save the money for this program & clean house in upper management & promote from the bottom up. Individuals @ the bottom can see clearly what is wrong–whereas individuals in upper management obviously can’t identify the problems–otherwise, they would have already fixed them. Individuals are continously promoted–not on qualifications–but by whom they are friends with or because of whom they are related! I have received outstanding and superior performance evaluations during the six years I have been employed @ the VA. The VA has a reputation for wasting money. This is because every program they develop (whether it’s scheduling, training, payroll, etc.) is so complicated & mind-boggling that you can’t see the forest for the trees!! Unfortunately, I will be gridlocked @ the same Grade and step until I retire–because I am not in a click group. This is the ultimate problem @ the VA. Get rid of the croneyism and nepotism. Also, incorporate a human resource department @ each VA that screens applicants based on their credentials and education. Employees should be removed if they do not perform and attendance is poor. It should not take 15 steps to terminate an employee. There are 1700 employees at my facility (including CBOC locations). I am still to meet a VA employee that has been terminated. It’s all based on who you know–not what you know @ the VA!! This is why there is not any accountability. Upper management continuously makes sure their friends and relatives are hired into the supervisory positions & then these individuals are not held accountable!!!

    • Anita October 7, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Thank you for raising such an issue, the stigma in the VA are political base and yes if you are not associated with the right type of people, you are not good enough for certain positions. The human resource department has lot to blame for theses issues also. In my years at the VA I notice people are in position that they are not qualified for and cannot perform the duties appropriately.

      Not only is the call wait times and access is broken it is the unqualified staff an staff who lack to follow the VHA Directives guidelines or policies that are in place. Only hope that with all the OIG investigations that people are held accountable for thei actions.

  3. lambda5555m October 1, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    I can’t believe all of the money spent on upgrading the VA records, database and other types of information storage. It is not that difficult and I have done it several times and made it really easy to input the information with little training and get the results out that is needed/required. I have been very successful doing this, but I am not a programmer and have one that could do it, I design it and he builds it. It is REALLY SIMPLE to design and easy to build, but have offered several times to help, but they don’t want good ideas or suggestions on how to make things better.

    • Sandra Demoruelle October 1, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      I have found they are adverse to ANY suggestions – small or large – even to bring the VARO into admin compliance with Federal law! There HAS to be some method in place to accept “suggestions” before there will be any trust rebuilt with Veterans and their caregivers, like me!!

  4. Lynn Halle September 30, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Nothing has been done to Fire the people that have abused us! Not ONE Director has been Removed or Bonuses Reimbursed! Mr. Ng, who embezzled $100,000 from the Louisiana VA, and now under investigation for doing similar things here in Providence RI, has been moved to the Boston VA and probably given money not only for the moves, but got bonuses too! Yet Senator Jack Reed’s VA rep. said he would not look into having him fired. The cover-up continues, and I am still not getting PTSD Therapy because my therapist was overbooked!

    • Sandra Demoruelle October 1, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      This is exactly the lack of consequences for Regional Offices (VARO) ignoring Central Office (VACO) directives I referred to earlier. The “directives” are based on Federal statutes and legal admin rulemaking procedures so the VAROs are breaking the law and face no consequences for this lack of admin compliance.

  5. Robert L Wall Sr September 30, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    During all of my years being treated at the Boston MA Medical Hospital, Boston VA Clinic, Durham NC Medical Hospital, Raleigh NC Medical Clinic, and the Raleigh NC Mental Health Clinic.
    Employees at each of these five locations have treated my with TOTAL respect and professionalism: ENT, dental, radiology, dermatology, x-ray, neurology, MRI, eye, pharmacy, lab, including parking, check-in, Vet store and cafeteria.

  6. Thomas E. Stambaugh September 30, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Seems this scheduling software up date should not be difficult. Many businesses schedule work orders, package deliveries and aircraft/train/truck departures and arrivals. This software should be available off the shelf in the hands of a knowledgeable contractor. Two years to deliver seems excessive.

  7. Robert L Wall Sr September 30, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    During all of my years with the VA taking care of my health needs, I have NEVER had a problem at any of the following locations: Boston, MA VA Medical Hospital, Durham NC Medical Hospital, Raleigh NC Medical Clinic,and Raleigh NC Mental Health Clinic.
    All of the employees at these four locations have always treated me with total respect and professionalism.
    I have had treatment in ENT, eye, dermatology, dental, radiology, x-ray, and check-in.
    No problems in parking, cafeteria and any other offices I failed to mention.

  8. Sandra Demoruelle September 30, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Congress knows local VA facilities frequently totally ignore Central Office directives because there are no CONSEQUENCES for non-compliance, so (to paraphrase the old baseball axiom), you at VACO can plan great, but the local facilities will likely play lousy (ignore you). You need to give as much thought to enforcing compliance (implementation) as to designing the system and directives!

  9. Bryan Pullin September 30, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Not the software it is the workers not scheduling the Veteran’s and telling the VETERANS THEY ARE SCHEDULE and when they go in they tell them there not schedule start moder the phones and actualy fired someone..

    • Teddi Stearns October 8, 2014 at 10:26 am

      The software is antiquated. It truly has a large part of the problem. There are two systems and neither can communicate with the other. Update the systems and it will tremendously help this problem.

  10. Joseph Lapierre September 30, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Please get rid of the Equifax questions necessary to remote validate identification. It’s use is stupid and really criminal. Equifax records contain known errors. They can access data from the other agencies. Soe of it is very old. PLEASE.

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