Tech Council Offers to Help Solve VA’s Scheduling Woes
The Northern Virginia Technology Council, a group with experience in helping an ailing government agency correct its problems, has offered its services to the Department of Veterans Affairs on a pro bono basis.
As revelations of mismanagement and possible criminal conduct at Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities continue to emerge, members of Congress and others seeking to solve the immediate problem of providing overdue medical care to thousands of veterans are beginning to look to the private sector—including, potentially, one association with a record of helping untangle government red tape.
Last week, senators announced a bipartisan agreement on a bill that would give veterans experiencing long wait times or who live more than 40 miles away from a VA facility the option to seek care at other government or private medical centers. It would also give the VA $500 million to hire more doctors and nurses.
But while the bill works its way through Congress, a group of Northern Virginia technology companies is offering to provide more immediate assistance to the VA.
In a letter to President Obama last week, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and several colleagues urged the president to turn to the private sector to obtain an assessment of, and recommendations for, improving the IT and workflow challenges faced by the VA.
“By calling on our best minds across the private sector in a pro bono demonstration of solid corporate citizenship, we could create a blueprint for achievable action the VA should undertake,” the letter stated. “Our veterans deserve quick action on these urgent issues.”
The Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC), a trade association whose members include major technology firms, has offered to do the work on a pro bono basis, Warner told reporters in a conference call last week, according to the Washington Post.
This wouldn’t be the first time that NVTC and its members helped correct a federal management problem. In 2010, following an Army investigation that found major flaws in Arlington Cemetery’s record-keeping process that resulted in mismarked graves, the group stepped in to help sort things out.
“Over a three-month period, a working group of 17 NVTC member companies, led by Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC, and The MITRE Corporation, conducted an assessment of the processes and technology challenges at the cemetery,” the group explained in a statement on its website. NVTC then made recommendations to address those challenges and optimize the cemetery’s long-term operations.
According to the Army’s legal terms, the contractors involved could provide assessments and recommendations to the government at no charge but could not bid on any resulting contract, NVTC President and CEO Bobbie Greene Kilberg told the Post.
NVTC said it was working with Warner and his staff to coordinate efforts to offer assistance to the VA and would notify members when the opportunity to help arises.