VA to Reduce Technical Debt for ‘First Time’ in FY2022 – MeriTalk


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that it has enough IT funds this year to slowly begin reducing its technical debt for the first time, agency executives said today at a hearing of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY2022) VA IT Budget.

For its budget request for fiscal year 2022, the VA’s computer systems are priced high at $ 4.8 billion. Fiscal year 2022 is unique in that it will be the first time that the VA will have access to the Recurrent Expenditure Transformation Fund authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016. In addition, VA is also authorized to use funds from the plan. US rescue for certain IT requirements in fiscal year 2022.

In total, the budget for the VA’s Office of Information and Technology (ILO) has increased by 34%, or $ 1.4 billion, since 2019, compared to the 2022 request.

“Despite this growth, I have to admit that we have significant technical debt, especially with regard to our aging IT infrastructure,” said Jon Rychalski, assistant secretary of management and chief financial officer at VA, of the increase. of the budget during the hearing. “The main cause of this deficit is the inability to properly account for the IT costs associated with new initiatives over many years. Rather than including IT in the inherent cost of a new benefit or initiative, other IT accounts were raided to fund the new initiative.

However, when asked if the FY2022 budget was enough to start reducing VA’s accumulated technical debt, Dominic Cussatt, acting deputy IT secretary and acting IT director at VA, said that he thought “it was enough to start reducing it”.

“For the first time, we have a really good idea of ​​our technical debt,” Cussatt said. “We have a detailed plan on how to solve it within four years. And then the important thing is that you are never finished. You can’t just fix it, you know, you have to refresh … to industry standards, whether it’s a four-year refresh cycle for end-user devices or a refresh cycle. six to seven year refresh for the backbone infrastructure of the business. So, we are aware of this.

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“Every year we look at what additional funding we could use to help speed up the processing of technical debt… we want to do it as quickly as possible, but we know the funding is limited,” he added.

Rychalski agreed that the VA is keen to reduce its technical debt quickly, but he also stressed that the agency wants to “do it responsibly”.

“The reality is you can’t dump… just 10 billion or 20 billion IT and fix the infrastructure – it’s going to take some time to work on it responsibly and efficiently,” Rychalski said. “So I think we’re asking for the right amount of money, based on need and what other funding sources we have. “

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