The Department of Veterans Affairs will supplement its $4.8 billion request for the Office of Information Technology’s fiscal 2022 budgett with $670 million from expired funds already appropriated by Congress.
The additional funds, called the VA’s Transformational Fund (TF), boosts the $269.9 billion all-in base funding request for the fiscal 2022 with a total of $820 million. The other $150 million from the transformational fund account will go to physical infrastructure upgrades.
The TF was created by legislation passed in 2016, and allows the VA to transfer unobligated balances of expiring discretionary funds to be used for facilities infrastructure improvements at existing VHA hospitals and clinics and IT improvements.
At a hearing on Wednesday, VA Chief Financial Officer Jon Rychalski told the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs outlined the extra funds, which will take total funding for the agency’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) to $5.5 billion, up from $4.9 billion in 2021.
“We also have access to the transformational funds starting in [fiscal 2022], which is access to our expiring appropriations that we can use for two purposes, one is for IT and one is for physical infrastructure,” said Rychalski.
From the transferred funds $477.5 million is being request to for the IT infrastructure, $122.9 million for enhancement of the financial management systems and $69.6 million for modernization and sustainment of human resources IT systems, according to budget documents.
The OIT budget is separate from the the VA’s electronic health records modernization program, a $16 billion, 10 year drive to migrate medical records to a Cerner cloud system and modernize the entire IT system medical staff use when working with patients. The program has hit several road blocks, including a pause in roll out while VA Secretary Denis McDonough completes a strategic review of the program. The VA asked for $2.7 billion for the EHR program in fiscal 2022.
“I’ll be in a position before the end of this month to submit a series of reports” on the EHR program, McDonough told senators.