House creates subcommittee to oversee VA tech modernization, EHR implementation

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The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs approved a new five-member subcommittee Thursday with the sole purpose of overseeing the Department of Veterans Affairs’ technology modernization, namely the development of a new electronic health record system.

Jim Banks, R-Ind., will chair the Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, and Conor Lamb, D-Pa., will serve as ranking member. Filling out the subcommittee are Jack Bergman, R-Mich., Mike Coffman, R-Colo., and Scott Peters, D-Calif.

Full committee Chairman Phil Roe, R-Tenn., said in a meeting approving the new subcommittee that it “will have oversight responsibility over VA’s information technology programs, focusing primarily on the electronic health record modernization program.”

“As the department embarks on the nation’s largest EHR overhaul, it is critical that we ensure veterans and taxpayers are protected throughout the transition,” he said in a statement.

Banks is a strategic choice to chair the subcommittee as he also serves on the House Armed Services Committee and has experience with overseeing the Defense Department’s new and similar EHR rollout, MHS GENESIS, which is built around the same Cerner platform that VA’s will be. Coffman similarly chairs the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, with the responsibility to oversee the implementation of MHS GENESIS.

Bergman, meanwhile, is currently chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which has VA’s IT programs under its watch.

The full committee’s ranking Democrat, Tim Walz of Minnesota, called the subcommittee “a golden opportunity for Congress to exert its oversight authority to make sure that we’re not only making sure that this record gets there for our veterans but we’re being those watchdogs for the taxpayers.”

Banks said he has “no illusions about the challenge confronting VA in this monumental undertaking. I am committed to asking the tough questions and challenging the bureaucratic status quo. Veterans and taxpayers expect nothing less.”

Roe hinted at the creation of the subcommittee in a recent full committee hearing on the EHR modernization’s rollout. Members expressed their concerns during that hearing that VA’s implementation of the EHR is off to a worrisome start because the department is missing the key leadership to oversee its success.

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Conor Lamb, EHR, House Veterans Affairs, IT Modernization, Jack Bergman, Jim Banks, Mike Coffman, Phil Roe, Scott Peters, Tim Walz, Veterans Affairs